In touch: Young people, communication and technologies

Henderson, Sheila; Taylor, Rebecca and Thomson, Rachel (2002). In touch: Young people, communication and technologies. Information, Communication and Society, 5(4) pp. 494–512.



This paper explores the place of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the everyday lives of young people with a focus on the emergence of new and transitory cultures of sociality associated with the use of the mobile phone. It explores how differences of class and culture shape the meaning and use of mobile telephones, distinguishing between the phone as a commodity within material culture and as a medium of social capital, most apparent at the moment of leaving school. The potential of the telephone for reworking the boundaries between public and private spheres is considered, including its role as a technology of romance and of parenting. The paper suggests that mobile telephones can be understood as an individualizing technology, placing young people in the centre of social networks, yet also making them available to reciprocal obligations. There are gendered dimensions to this process with young women appearing to make the most of freedoms offered by this technology and young men emphasizing constraints. The paper cautions against investing this technology with particular characteristics suggesting that distinct potentials are realized in relation to particularities of class, age, culture and circumstance. The paper is based on a qualitative longitudinal study of young people's transitions to adulthood conducted in contrasting locations in the UK between 1999 and 2001.

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