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Mobile Communication

Mobile Communication

The media landscape has changed dramatically in recent decades, from one predominated by traditional mass communication formats to today’s more personalized network environment. Mobile communication plays a central role in this transition, with adoption rates that surpass even those of the Internet. The widespread diffusion and use of mobile telephony is iconic of a shift toward a new ‘personal communication society’, evidenced by several key areas of social change, including symbolic meaning of the technology, new forms of coordination and social networking, personalization of public spaces, and the mobile youth culture. The increasingly personal nature of communication technology in the desire for ‘perpetual contact’ would shape the device and its usage. The symbolic significance of mobile communication devices is part and parcel of the progression from a mass to a network toward a personal communication society.

Personal communication technologies are distinctive from other network technologies (e.g. the computer) in that they are often worn on body, highly individualized, and regarded as extensions of the self. It has been said that they make us individually addressable regardless of where we are. Young people are using the mobile phone to help configure important social developments in their lives. These changes can be seen in many key areas, including peer relations, domestic ties, and identity formation.

Beyond its unprecedented rate of diffusion and the mobility factor, personalisation plays out an important role in defining the new social dimensions. The technology might enable ‘cocooning’ to take place as individuals shut themselves off from co-present others while plugged into their mobile phone.

The biggest challenge facing mobile networks is going to be engaging, retaining, and squeezing money out of the younger generation. Though the current crop of 15-24 year-olds is incredibly tech-savvy, it appears that most aren't keen on paying for any services other than voice and SMS.

Thanks to the culture of getting nearly everything for free online, including social networking services, music, video, and other user-generated content, mobile operators could find it tough to turn these "digital native" young people into heavily paying customers.

#Mobile phone usage depicts new forms of coordination: instrumental- and expressive- coordination. Instrumental-coordination entails instrumental uses of the mobile phone, such as coordinating basic logistics, redirecting trips that are already under way, or making plans with others entirely ‘on the fly’. Expressive-coordination refers to the expressive and relational dimensions of mobile communication, such as chatting with family members or occasionally checking in with friends via text messaging.

Planning social activities is a priority for many DNs, and the ‘real-time’ nature of mobile communication plays a vital role in this process. Thus, if a social gathering changes, it is easy to get word out. If a party is boring, those who arrive first can send a message to others and alternative plans can be developed. Privacy is an important nuance to these novel forms of connection and coordination. Much of what young DNs have to say to one another can now more easily be said (or thumbed) ‘under the radar’ of their parental observation. Thus, the mobile phone not only lowers the threshold for interaction among young people, it does so in a way that offers increased privacy and autonomy from their parents.

Usage of DNs

They use text messaging exclusively with friends, while relegating parents to voice calling or voice mail, allows them to utilize characters that are unique to their social networks, hence, demonstrating network membership and sharpening the boundary separating insiders from outsiders It allows for a type of ‘connected presence’ where peers are continually updated as to one another’s situation. Previous to the adoption of the mobile phone, individuals would have more bounded interaction with friends. They would perhaps save bits of information in anticipation of their next meeting and then use that time to update each other. The mobile telephone means that there is no longer the need to deal with this backlog of information. The members of a social group are frequently updated as to the issues and events taking place among their peers. Finally, the mobile phone serves as a form of identity for young people. The brand and the model can say much about the owner. The identity of DNs is also played out in the number of names in the contact register, the number of SMS messages received recently, ring tones, wall papers, and special icons.

DNs rely on peer group interactions and social network ties to establish a sense of self, and mobile communication affords greater freedom for them to carry out their social relations as they see fit. It plays such an integral role in the lives of young people that it has actually become an important part of who they are, feeding into the symbolic meaning of the technology. As a result, the mobile phone is among the most personal of today’s communication tools, and, therefore, its iconic of the rise of personal communication society.

The fashion of a mobile phone is so integral to some users that it actually intersects with the function of the technology. The fashion of the technology is socially significant to the users who are forming and expressing their identity.

One additional social effect of widespread mobile technology availability is peer-to-peer journalism, in which regular citizens become eye witness journalists by capturing and broadcasting news events using their mobile devices.

# Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society
Scott W. Campbell* and Yong Jin Park
University of Michigan


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