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The cocial construction of mobile telephony: an application of the social influence model to perceptions and uses of mobile phones within personal communication networks

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The purpose of this study was to test the argument that perceptions and uses of mobile phones are socially constructed in close personal networks. The study hypothesized that, through collective sense making, perceptions and uses of mobile phones would be more similar within 45 personal communication networks than for the entire sample of 194 individuals. Findings from a self-report survey reveal that several factors were significantly more similar within the networks than for individuals throughout the sample, including perceptions of the handset as a means of display, use for safety and security, attitudes about use in public, microcoordination, hypercoordination, and comfort with technology. Interviews were conducted to explore how perceptions and uses were shaped through relationships and interactions situated in social context. The interview data illuminate how social interaction contributed to perceptions and uses in four key areas: mobile phone adoption, attitudes about products and services, perceptions of non-normative use, and collective use. Results of the study serve as evidence supporting the argument that perceptions and uses of communication technologies are, at least in part, constructed socially among close personal contacts. This study demonstrates why it is important for researchers to consider social contacts and social contexts when examining the implications of communication technologies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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