|عنوان فارسی مقاله:||پیامدهای اجتماعی تلفن همراه : ظهور جامعه ارتباطات شخصی|
|عنوان انگلیسی مقاله:||Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society|
|رشته های مرتبط:||فناوری اطلاعات و ارتباطات، مخابرات سیار، سوئیچ|
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|نشریه||وایلی – Wiely|
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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. This essay argues that 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 conclusion speculates on future trends in the sociotechnological climate.
Like the television in the 1950s and the Internet in the 1990s, mobile telephony has emerged as one of the defining communication technologies of our time (Castells et al. 2007). Mobile subscriptions are well into the billions worldwide and growing (International Telecommunication Union 2007). Not surprisingly, the burgeoning adoption and use of mobile communication technology contributes to a host of social consequences, including new representations of the self, new forms of social connection, and private use of public space. The purpose of this essay is to consider some key areas of social change resulting from the widespread adoption and use of mobile telephony, while theoretically situating them in the dynamic relationship between technology and society. Drawing from Marshall McLuhan, Manuel Castells, and others, we argue that the social changes that come out of mobile communication mark a distinctive step in the progression from the age of traditional mass media to a new personal communication society. McLuhan (1962, 1964) argued that characteristics of communication technologies shape cognition and social organization. Accordingly, the development of print moved society into a visual age, while television, radio, and film helped move us into a mass age. This line of reasoning is succinctly captured by McLuhan’s (in)famous assertion that ‘The medium is the message’. During the mass age of the middle twentieth century mediated communications were characteristically one-way transmissions, broadcast from media institutions to the public at large. Relative to today’s communications environment, media consumption during the mass age involved little human agency and little personalized content. More recently, Manuel Castells developed a theory of equal ambition about networked flows of information. According to Castells (2000), information and communication technologies of the 1980s and 1990s nourished a shift in social organization characterized by decentralized, flexible, network nodes based on shared interests rather than shared geographic space. Similar to McLuhan’s characterization of the mass age, Castells described this pervasive shift in social order as the rise of a new network society (2000). In fact, Castells explicitly invoked McLuhan by asserting, ‘The network is the message’ (2001). It is important to note that while McLuhan attributed social change to the development and use of technologies, Castells did not. Instead, he argued that changes in communication technologies nourish changes in social order rooted in preexisting social conditions. Castells explained, ‘My thesis is that the rise of the informational, global economy is characterized by the development of a new organizational logic which is related to the current process of technological change, but not dependent upon it’ (2000, 164). Despite their differing views on technological determinism, one can draw a theoretical parallel between McLuhan and Castells in that both use communication technologies as a framework for understanding society, because, in a sense, they are characteristic of social order. This is not to suggest that technologies determine society, but that they can serve as a lens for examining how social order is produced and reproduced through systems of communication. The present article draws from and extends this line of thinking by arguing that we have entered a new personal age of communication technologies. That is, the communication technologies predominant in today’s society, particularly mobile telephony, are characteristically personal in nature. Furthermore, the personal nature of technologies such as mobile telephony serves as a useful framework for understanding the social consequences that come out of their adoption and use. Unlike the progression from McLuhan’s mass age to Castells’s network age, today’s personal age is not a radical departure from its predecessor, but rather a natural extension of it. This is to say that the age of personal communication technologies, exemplified by the widespread adoption and use of mobile telephony, is a nuance and accession of the network society of the 1990s. That said, 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 (Ling forthcoming). We argue here that this shift toward an age where personal communication devices are predominant gives rise to a number of important social changes. The remainder of this essay will examine some of the key changes as they relate to the increasingly personal nature of communication technologies, with a focus on the mobile phone.