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Understanding the Mobile Telephony Usage Patterns

Technische Universität
Publication Date
  • Communication
  • Design


The thesis focuses on the interlaced re-building of communication, movement, and information due to the integration of the wireless telephony in the daily life. The core of the theoretical part of the dissertation consists in the construction of a dispositif model that explains wireless telephony constitution, usage, and impact. The model outlines technology, subjects, usage, perception, representation, and socio-cultural frames. The reciprocal interactions between the mobile telephony apparatus, human subjects (as designers and users), and various usage programs (mobile communication, information and orientation, personal assistant, supervising, and entertainment) lead to the rebuilding of communication, information, entertainment, and supervising “arrangements”. Further, in a historical chapter dealing with the constitution of the dispositif, avatars of communication and mobility structures are presented in connection with the underlying transformations from science to technical implementation and diffusion. It is argued that the current mobile telephony represents a mature and functional phase of a manifold dispositif, which has historically constituted through redefinition and creative rebuilding of programs and structures belonging to earlier avatars and competing dispositives. The empirical part of the dissertation examines the results of the quantitative online study conducted to validate and correct the theoretical model and to identify the formative effects of the dispositif. Findings indicate that the usage of wireless telephony creates a specific communication structure featuring particular purposes, content, situations, actions and partners, which is mainly oriented toward spatial and temporal coordination of communicators. The analysis also concentrates on the relation between mobile communication (verbal and written) and other communication forms enabled by face-to-face contacts or technical dispositives. Two positioning analyses of the existing communication forms in the situational and affective field (conducted through Multidimensional Scaling), show that the usage and perception of mobile telephony and SMS are subjects of interaction with the usage and perception of face-to-face communication, fixed telephony, and e-mail. Thus, concurrent and complementary dispositives continuously influence each other by ingeniously manipulating their programs for competitive purposes. Concerning the constitution of communicative mobility, the effect of technology usage on movement is reinforced mainly at the attitudinal/representational level. Particular localization patterns and chronotypes structured by technology usage are revealed. Other results relate to the images and attitudes towards technology and its users and to several social effects of mobile telephony usage, such as the strengthening of close family relations and the extension of the network of acquaintances.

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