Communication Mobile Communication Studies
by
Yi-Fan Chen
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0091

Introduction

Mobile media are recognized as the fastest-growing media category. Although mobile media users were already enjoying mobile devices in their everyday lives, prior to the millennium there was a lack of research in the area of mobile communication studies. Communication research swelled during the first two decades of the 21st century, reflecting the increase in mobile media use. Most researchers focus on three perspectives: human interaction through mobile media, mobile culture, and mobile media as a means to a better life. They have studied how mobile phones, short message services, and mobile music devices have changed the way people do everyday things. An increasing number of mobile communication studies focus on how mobile social media, such as Twitter, help to foster civic engagement. This article mainly takes a sociological perspective to document mobile communication studies in the field. It includes research into how people adopt mobile media, how mobile media are used, and how mobile culture meanings and norms are created in everyday life. The bibliographies here include and analyze case studies from around the world, many of which focus on the social consequences of ever-present mobile media use. Many of the mobile communication studies mentioned here investigate how youths use mobile media to create their personal identities, group identities, and social networks. Some of the works cited here reflect researchers’ attempts to understand if mobile media separate their users—or bring them together. Some of the studies focus on mobile media “haves” and “have-nots,” while others pay more attention to how mobile media can be used for positive socioeconomic development. Additionally, these sources explore some possible quandaries resulting from mobile media use.

General Overviews

The works that will be described in this section provide background and history, or offer the findings from early mobile communication studies. Researchers within the mobile communication field should find that these books offer a historical foundation for understanding mobile media. For example, Kopomaa 2000 is one of the earliest books to document how people use mobile media to communicate with one another. Researchers have found the works of Green and Haddon 2009, Katz 1999, and Katz and Aakhus 2002 particularly insightful by demonstrating that people around the world incorporate mobile media in different ways within their daily lives. Springer has published a series on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, including some early mobile media and human-interaction studies (e.g., Brown, et al. 2002; Hamill and Lasen 2005). Scholars and researchers may find many potential mobile communication research ideas within this series. In addition, Agar 2003 and Ling and Donner 2009 also provide overviews of mobile media history.

  • Agar, Jon. 2003. Constant touch: A global history of the mobile phone. Cambridge, UK: Icon Books.

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    Agar’s book discusses the inception of mobile phones and the social consequences of mobile phone use worldwide. Documents how political relations affect mobile phone use and culture in different countries. Includes discussions about mobile cultures in the United States, Nordic countries, European countries, and Asian countries. Provides several possible directions for future research.

  • Brown, Barry, Nicola Green, and Richard Harper, eds. 2002. Wireless world: Social and interactional aspects of the mobile age. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. New York: Springer.

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    Explains the social factors that affect design, usability, and evaluation of mobile media. Provides an overview of how people interact, use, and share mobile devices in human relationships or within workplaces.

  • Green, Nicola, and Leslie Haddon. 2009. Mobile communications: An introduction to new media. New York: Berg.

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    The authors use mobile communication case studies, such as mRelationship, mSpace, and mTime, from around the world to assist readers in understanding important mobile media issues better. Many chapters in the book focus on mobile media use in human interactions as well as in human relationships. Discusses mobile media use between children and parents, as well as between children and their peers.

  • Hamill, Lynne, and Amparo Lasen, eds. 2005. Mobile world: Past, present and future. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. New York: Springer.

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    Discusses how people in the developed world have used their mobile media in several goal-directed ways, including communicating, texting, gaming, and messaging. Some chapters address mobile media adoption, mobile media usage, and mobile media identities.

  • Katz, James Everett. 1999. Connections: Social and cultural studies of the telephone in American life. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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    Katz argues that there is a lack of study relating to the social consequences of mobile media use despite the fact that Americans are highly mobile. From a social scientific perspective, Katz identifies both positive and negative consequences of the use of the mobile phone and other wireless devices. Katz uses his own research findings to support the arguments that he makes in the book.

  • Katz, James Everett, and Mark Aakhus, eds. 2002. Perpetual contact: Mobile communication, private talk, public performance. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    From a social scientific perspective, the book discusses mobile media use and mobile media culture, as well as how mobile media can serve to vastly impact societies throughout the world. Some key concepts within the mobile communication field, such as Rich Ling and Brigitte Yttri’s microcoordination and hypercoordination, and Kenneth Gergen’s notion of the absence presence, are also discussed.

  • Kopomaa, Timo. 2000. The city in your pocket: Birth of the mobile information society. Helsinki: Gaudeamus.

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    This pocket book is about how the Finnish use mobile media. Author posits that people can, and do, communicate in any place and at any time using mobile media. Text-messaging practices among youngsters are also explored. Another theme that is touched upon is that of “third place” and how this can be created through mobile media use and the implications of this creation. The reader is provided with several directions for future research.

  • Ling, Richard Seyler, and Jonathan Donner. 2009. Digital Media and Society. Mobile communication. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

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    Draws upon mobile media data around the world. The book provides a basic understanding of international mobile media adoption and diffusion, as well as their social and cultural impacts, such as perpetual mobile media use, mSpace, and mCoordination.

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