Communication Technology as an Extension of the Self in the U.S. and Germany: A Cross-Cultural Study Linking People’s Associations with Technology to Their Symbolic Proximity with Others - Arun Vishwanath and Hao Chen 447
447 Introduction to Communication Technology as an Extension of the Self in the U.S. and Germany: A Cross-Cultural Study Linking People’s Associa- tions with Technology to Their Symbolic Proximity with Others By Arun Vishwanath and Hao Chen Vishwanath and Chen note that personal communication tools play an unprece- dented role in people’s lives today. These technologies serve as an extension of human senses, allowing humans to experience, influence, and participate in events by reducing the constraints of time and distance. Many of these tools help individuals maintain symbolic proximity with others, bridge the distances created by spatial extensions, and sustain geographically scattered yet intimate social networks. The authors argue that the roles and associations between technologies and peo- ple are socially constructed and culture specific. For example, Japanese teens use cell phones to obtain freedom from family members and communicate with friends at night while U.S. teens use cell phones to keep in touch with family members. Similarly, British children use electronic games to relieve boredom while Dutch children use electronic games for relaxation. The authors also note that little systematic information actually exists about individual associations between various personal technologies, their importance to the individual user or their extensional distances from the self. Even less is known, the authors point out, about the cultural differences between these associations and the antece- dents to these differences. Most research focuses on attempts to locate the rela- tionships between technologies and their uses and gratifactions sought by the users rather than to...
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