The mobile phone: Towards new cat...
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE This article was downloaded by: [Temple University Libraries] On: 16 November 2010 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 918014460] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37- 41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Information, Communication & Society Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713699183 The mobile phone: Towards new categories and social relations Leopoldina Fortunatia a University of Udine, Italy To cite this Article Fortunati, Leopoldina(2002) 'The mobile phone: Towards new categories and social relations', Information, Communication & Society, 5: 4, 513 ��� 528 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/13691180208538803 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13691180208538803 Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdf This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
| J Routledge Information, Communication St^Societj 5:4 2002 513���528 j j j ^ Taylors.Francis Croup THE MOBILE PHONE: TOWARDS NEW CATEGORIES AND SOCIAL RELATIONS1 Leopoldina Fortunati University of Udine, Italy Abstract The debate over the social use ofthe mobile phone has been enriched by a large amount of information andreflection asto how this instrument has modified interpersonal relations, changed roles in thefamily, re-defined the limits of communicative possibilities, rewritten the present functioning of institutions such as hospitals and schools, aswell as the modus operandi ofcriminal organizations, intensified work rhythms, rationalized theorganization of work relations, in a word, howthe use of the mobile hasprofoundly changed society.2 On the contrary, less attention has been dedicated tothereconstruction and analysisof the impulse that itsusers have given themobile (see itsunexpected transfor- mation, from theking of orality to a means ofwriting and reading). The main thesis ofthis article isthat the mobile ischanging notonly society, butaboveall the framework inwhich society lives. This framework ismade upofspace and time as its primary determinations, which areable to integrate, stabilizeand structure reality. The mobile changes reality in its widest sense, or rather its social representation. Let us remember with McLuhan (1964), Meyrowitz (1985) and many other scholars, that the medium isnot only the message, but also a specific concept of time andspace, that is, a specific dimension of existence. In the following sections, above allthechanges that have been brought about to space and time will be dealt with, and then how the statute of the presence and absence ofindividuals in social space ismodified will be analysed, how the relation between modern citizens changes radically with public space, and finally how the democratic process isenriched by further implementations. Keywords mobile phone, space, time, public space, democracy, social relations METAMORPHOSIS OF SPACE AND TIME That theuseof communicative technologies hasmodified therelationship of modern citizens with space andtime is soobvious that it goes without saying. This analysis gives a sense of the old and stale, due not only to its over-inflated use, but also the fact that inmost cases itisjust a generic statement. The expansionof Information, Communication ^Society ISSN 1369-118X print/ISSN 1468-4462 online �� 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/1369118022000028160 Downloaded By: [Temple University Libraries] At: 20:22 16 November 2010
LEOPOLDINA FORTUNATI space and time, the instantaneous nature of communication at a distance, the new ubiquity of human beings, have become dead metaphors. What has happened is that on the one hand scholars have not been able to take up the thread of the debate developed by the classics on this theme, sometimes very fruitful, on the other, they have not managed to give the various instruments inside these processes their due weight. So it would be very important to make up for these two shortcomings by (a) implementing with the help of the classics the quality of the analysis of the influence of communicative and information technologies on space and time (b) articulating this analysis, with the purpose of calibrating the role of each instrument (for example, what has the mobile phone changed that had not already been changed by fixed telephony?). We shall begin to do this by setting out some observations asto how the relation of individuals with space and time has changed with the spread of the mobile phone. Through communicative technologies (including means of transport) modern-day citizens, it has been said, have increased the level of social produc- tivity, not only rationalizing and therefore making the organization of the world of work and the domestic sphere more productive but also constructing new perceptions and categories of time and space (Harvey 1990 Thompson 199S Jedlowski 1999 Crang and Thrift 2000). The increase in the capacity to perceive space-time inevitably leads to a metamorphosis inside the psychically active entity and quality of space-time itself (Simmel 1983 Cassirer 1989). Modern-day citizens 'work' space and time to try to increase them, seeing that they are scarce resources (Luhmann 1988). The attempt is to enlarge the surface of space and the duration of time by means of communicative technologies. Space has widened out horizontally, lengthened out vertically, and at the same time is perceived as a background while time is experienced in all its extensions and expanded in thickness. Space and time have thus become the new frontiers of increased social productivity. The mobile phone has a privileged role in this technological transformation of time and space, even if it carries the word, that is, mediates an action with a low-energy content such as communication (which makes this power of transformation even more magical and astonishing). What space and time has the mobile found itself interacting with? Witha space that was already transformed before, developing its technological aspect, informative, multicultural, mobile and relational, in short, becoming a complex space, not immediately easy to understand. The increasing difficulty in people's immediate and effective relation with space, which has become increasingly difficult to understand, has been an important element at the base of the spread and success of the mobile phone. This instrument, in fact, has enabled people to somehow attenuate their anxiety and bewilderment in the face of this new quality 5 1 A Downloaded By: [Temple University Libraries] At: 20:22 16 November 2010