Edited By Joachim Höflich, Georg F. Kircher, Christine Linke and Isabel Schlote
Fashion and the mobile phone: a study of symbolic meanings of mobile phone for college-age young people across cultures
During the past years, numerous scholars have examined the social interactions involving the mobile phone in public places. One of the perspectives taken for the examination is to situate the mobile phone as a symbolic object. Domestication Theory (Silverstone / Haddon 1996) as well as Apparatgeist Theory (Katz / Aakhus 2002) draws our attention to the symbolic meanings of the mobile phone. Domestication Theory posits that media and information and communication technologies are “not just material or functional objects but have a powerful symbolic charge” (Silverstone / Haddon 1996: 59 et seq.). Suggesting the importance of taking the social interaction perspective in understanding the symbolic meanings of technologies, the theory holds that the “symbolic charge is itself the product of the activities of those, together, design, market and use technologies” (ibid.: 60). In line with Domestication Theory, Apparatgeist Theory (Katz / Aakhus 2002) posits that users, non-users, and antiusers of technology interact with one another, and collectively negotiate meanings of the mobile phone. Since the theory treats the technology as analogous to humans, the interactions occur not only between users (as well as nonusers and rejecters) of technologies but also between human and technologies as well as technologies themselves. These interactions construct aesthetic meanings for the mobile phone since “[t]he technology itself offers people an opportunity to modify preconceived uses, and consequently, the way in which its design and vector develop relies on these modifications” (ibid.: 301).
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