The discursive construction of mobile chronotopes in mobile-phone messaging

Lyons, Agnieszka and Tagg, Caroline (2019). The discursive construction of mobile chronotopes in mobile-phone messaging. Language in Society, 48(5) pp. 657–683.



This article draws on data from an ethnographic project to explore the ways in which migrant micro-entrepreneurs exploit mobile messaging apps to co-construct mobile chronotopes: dynamic configurations of time and space negotiated by geographically separated participants, who draw on different contexts and frames of understanding. Analysis of mobile messages by two couples—Chinese butchers in Birmingham and Polish shop-owners in London—informed by interview and interactional data collected at work and home, suggests they discursively negotiate and exploit multiple chronotopic layers, creating complex intersections between virtual and physical spaces in everyday interactions. We focus on the role that multilingual and multimodal semiotic resources play in co-constructing mobile chronotopes. In particular, we explore critical junctures at which communicative expectations are challenged, rendering mobile chronotope negotiation visible. Our concept of the mobile chronotope has implications for both the theorisation of mobile phone communication and understanding how chronotopes function in contemporary transnational migrant discourse.

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