How Are Mobile Phones Changing the Way People Maintain Relationships?

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CULTURAL AWARENESS

How are mobile phones changing the way people maintain relationships?

INTRODUCTION

Mobile phones are increasingly taking a major role in the communication revolution and the use of the mobile phone is an immensely significant social and cultural phenomenon, hence over the years, the telephone has dramatically changed how people live their lives, see their world and communicate. As we read in Ferraro ( 2002: 29 ) “all cultures experience continual change”, however nowadays the process of a change is even more intensified, more dynamic and much quicker. A lot of that has to do with the development of mobile telephone technology. In referring to the drivers of change, we cannot forget about phenomenon of globalization which affects our modern lifestyle. In today’s world we live in a fast-pace, where maintaining relationships is made difficult by the fact we have less time for social bonding, and communication is often very limited. Here comes into importance the technology of the mobile phone, as it gives the opportunity to talk to anyone, anywhere at any time. Since mobile phones have become an increasingly important tool in social interaction, the purpose of this research project is to gain insight into the mobile technology phenomenon and to understand better how it affects the way people maintain relationships by linking it to the theoretical background of social construction and selective perception. The report consists of four major sections. Firstly, theoretical background will be presented, followed up by the explanation of methodology used. Then the findings of the primary research will be presented, followed up by an overall analysis of information gathered. Finally, a conclusion will be given.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Before investigating the influence that mobile phones have had on the way the relationships are maintained, it is crucial to understand the connection between communication and culture. According to Hall (1977) “Culture is communication and communication is culture”, from which we can deduce that the way we communicate expresses our culture. Therefore, any shift in the way we communicate has an influence on our culture, our perception , our behavior and the social construction. Let us take a look at the social construction. Why does this concept need to be mentioned? The answers is that we, as members of the society, are assembling ways of seeing things, while at the same time shaping our expectations and behavior. As culture is maintained by social construction, we learn culture every day. We learned to use mobile phones on a daily basis, letting them become inseparable part of our daily routine. Here another concept comes into importance, namely perception. Culture, and at the same time communication, performs an important role in how we perceive and understand reality. According to Gamble and Gamble (1996), (in Samovar et al, 2007: 128-130), we select, interpret and organize data in order to make sense of our world. And being exposed to similar experiences, culture creates similar meaning and behavior, which is called selective perception. It is truly incredible how fast mobile phones have caused a change in social construction and the way people perceive communication and social bonding. Sections below intend to explain how exactly mobile phones are changing the way people maintain relationships.

METHODOLOGY

In order to find out how the mobile technology is influencing the way the relationships are maintained in Britain , several methods were used to study the behavior of mobile phone users. Firstly, during a period of 4 weeks, in a variety of settings, using an observation, I observed the behavior of mobile phone users, by listening to their conversations and observing their approach to phone conversations, texting and using their mobile for various purposes. This was followed up by 2 individual and 2 focus group discussions. I found...
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