Leopoldina Fortunati And Shanhua Yang

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Leopoldina Fortunati And Shanhua Yang

  1. 1. News circulation by means of mobile phones in China b y Leopoldina Fortunati & Shanhua Yang <ul><li>L.eopoldina Fortunati ( University of Udine ) </li></ul><ul><li>Shanhua Yang (Peking University) </li></ul><ul><li>Paper Presented at the International Conference, </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mobile Communication and Asian Modernities, II. Information, Communication Tools & Social Changes in Asia” </li></ul><ul><li>Beiiing, 20-21 October 2005 </li></ul>
  2. 2. The mobile phone as a mass medium? An unexpected use of the mobile phone in recent years has been that of an informal and formal mass medium. In many Western countries Telecoms provide several services, among them SMS news, a radio service and now also a TV service.
  3. 3. The mobile phone as a mass medium? People can follow the score of their favorite team during the latest match, or the TV News they usually follow or their favorite soap opera, and so on. But there is also another important aspect of the use of the mobile phone as a mass medium, which has not been particularly stressed.
  4. 4. The mobile phone as a news medium? <ul><li>This is the informal use of the mobile phone in order to pass or discuss news with friends or colleagues, that is, to contribute to building the agenda in the public sphere. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The mobile phone as a news medium? <ul><li>This is the aim of a qualitative research we conducted with a small convenience sample made up of 19 Chinese people and composed of half males and females, including college students, professors, white collars and migrant workers. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Preliminary results <ul><li>The amount of information collected with these interviews is considerable. So we decided to present the results for to two topics: </li></ul><ul><li>1) the mobile phone as a “news” medium, which is the objective of our research; </li></ul><ul><li>2) practices of use of mobile phones, which form a background to better understand the first topic. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Preliminary results <ul><ul><ul><li>The mobile phone as “news” medium in China? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>From this research it doesn’t seem that there is an intense communication of news by means of mobile phones among our Chinese respondents. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. The mobile phone as “news” medium in China? <ul><li>These respondents are still at the margins of the use of the mobile phone as a mass medium. </li></ul><ul><li>The majority state that they don’t use the mobile phone to search for news or to follow the last events. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The mobile phone as “news” medium in China? <ul><li>The type of news which is generally appreciated is that related to some services: </li></ul><ul><li>- weather forecast </li></ul><ul><li>- search/ new job offers </li></ul>
  10. 10. The mobile phone as “news” medium in China? <ul><li>Another mobile service which is often used in China and which embodies the structure of media communication (the message which is sent at the same moment by a source to an audience) is the so called “volley”, that is the message that a person can send to many people at the same time. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The mobile phone as “news” medium in China? <ul><li>Yet, in the recent past there has been a good example of the convergence ( Law, 2004 ) which existed between media and mobile in China during the SARS crisis . </li></ul>
  12. 12. The mobile phone as “news” medium in China? <ul><li>According to He (2005), SMS now transmit a large part of private discourse in China, including political satire and crisis information. </li></ul><ul><li>But this aspect didn’t emerge in our research. </li></ul>
  13. 13. The identity of the mobile phone in China <ul><li>From this research, there are three elements that emerged regarding the identity of the mobile phone. </li></ul>
  14. 14. The identity of the mobile phone in China <ul><li>The first is that the mobile phone seems to be above all a technology of writing , a pen more developed on a technological level, because it is used first of all as an instrument of written communication. </li></ul>
  15. 15. The mobile phone as technology of writing The development of the mobile phone as a technology of writing is a design variant by Chinese users, while in Europe it has been a design variant by adolescents. The reason for this is to control and reduce communication costs. The use of the mobile phone as a writing device is the only modality of use which is compatible with income levels in China.
  16. 16. The mobile phone as technology of writing <ul><li>The fact that the mobile phone is mainly a technology of writing, in addition to the fact that the written language is very complex, implies that the mobile writing itself is ritualized. </li></ul><ul><li>- many manuals, SMS typologies, jokes </li></ul>
  17. 17. The mobile phone as technology of writing <ul><li>This high degree of formalization of the SMS content seems to be peculiar to Asian cultures (Pertierra, 2002). </li></ul>
  18. 18. The mobile phone as a computer <ul><li>Complementary uses of mobiles and computers </li></ul><ul><li>storage of information (websites of SMS) </li></ul><ul><li>search of information about the mobile </li></ul><ul><li>advertising (lotteries) </li></ul><ul><li>chat (by means of the software QQ) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Mobile phone and fashion <ul><li>It appears that the aesthetics of technologies, previously neglected by the big industry, has been re-launched in this phase to please feminine customers. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Mobile phone and fashion <ul><li>The importance attached especially by the women interviewed to the design and the brand of the mobile phone especially at the moment of purchasing it emerges in this research very clearly. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Mobile phone and fashion <ul><li>The importance attached especially by the women interviewed to the design and the brand of the mobile phone at the moment of purchasing it emerges in this research very clearly. </li></ul><ul><li>Xue Ruining told us that she changed her first mobile phone because “it was too big” . The second one she chose looked “like a tootsie” and was advertised as “elegant princely and beautiful” . </li></ul>
  22. 22. Mobile phone and fashion <ul><li>Instead, Lie Jie, when he buys a mobile phone, takes into account three things: price, battery capacity, and the operational convenience. </li></ul><ul><li>He said that “many cell phones with colorful displays were beautiful but not good for use”. </li></ul><ul><li>Xu Ping, another man, commenting on the fact that girls buy phone pockets, chains and stickers, states: “girls treat their mobile phone as a pet” . </li></ul>
  23. 23. Mobile phone and fashion <ul><li>Then he adds: “ I do send a lot of SMS. But girls send SMS to the extent that they even treat cell phone as one of the most important things in their life and hold it anytime and anywhere”. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Some girls regard the mobile phone as a kind of decoration. There are many adornments for them, such as MP3.” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Mobile phone and fashion <ul><li>But also several male respondents appreciate the design of the mobile phone. Sun Xiongwei told us that he liked the look of his new cell phone. “It’s got a large screen, very comfortable to look at. And it’s not expensive for me.” Many respondents complain about the ugly design of Nokia mobiles. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Mobile phone and fashion <ul><li>There is a large tendency by male users to appreciate more the functional aspects of the mobile </li></ul><ul><li>while female users tend more to appreciate first of all the design of the mobile phone. </li></ul><ul><li>But fashion will be increasingly important in the future, because, as it happens with clothes, male users are showing an increasing interest to fashion. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Semi-socialized individualism <ul><li>Instead of networked individualism (Wellman) we would like to use another metaphor, more appropriated to the sociability created by the mobile phone: semi-socialized individualism. </li></ul><ul><li>That is an individualism which is socialized more on the level of contacts rather than relationships and which communicates in a reduced modality (the few words of a SMS). </li></ul>
  27. 27. Semi-socialized individualism <ul><li>Instead of networked individualism (Wellman) we would like to use another metaphor, more appropriated to the sociability created by the mobile phone: semi-socialized individualism. </li></ul><ul><li>That is an individualism which is socialized more on a high amount of contacts rather than few closer and somewhat closer relationships and which communicates in a reduced modality (the few words of a SMS). </li></ul>
  28. 28. Semi-socialized individualism <ul><li>The importance of </li></ul><ul><li>- schoolmates </li></ul><ul><li>- fellow-citizen. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Mobile phone and high levels of ritualization <ul><li>The large spread of the mobile phone has the consequence that it creates new process of ritualization in the domestic setting of everyday life. For example, the first gesture of the day might be to send a “good morning” SMS to the boyfriend/girlfriend and the last gesture of the day might be to send a “good night SMS.” For other respondents the last gesture of the day might be to switch off the mobile phone, or to use it as alarm clock or to connect it to re-charge its battery. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Mobile phone and high levels of ritualization <ul><li>The persistence of high levels of ritualization of time is shown also by the big amount of greetings SMS people send to relatives and friends in occasion of particular feasts, which might be the traditional ones such the Spring Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, etc. This ritualization of time implies a strong use of a formulaic knowledge which is well represented by the different repertoires or manuals of SMS for every social occasion. (it’s boring) </li></ul>
  31. 31. Fixed and mobile phone <ul><li>The mobile phone becomes very often here as well as in Europe a device with a second degree of mobility, because it is used at home, but also at work, even if in the presence of the fixed telephone. </li></ul><ul><li>Lie Jie, for example, very often prefers not to use at work the fixed telephone and doesn’t hesitate to go out of the newsroom in order to have the possibility to talk on his mobile. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Fixed and mobile phone <ul><li>Furthermore, the mobile phone serves to reach people at the work place. The current organization of work presupposes a certain inner mobility. In this context, the mobile phone enables contacts with persons, always. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Costs <ul><li>Two aspects: </li></ul><ul><li>the cost of the mobile phone seems to correspond almost to a month-salary. </li></ul><ul><li>The mobile phone bill is very often paid </li></ul><ul><li>by enterprises, Public Administration etc. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Watch Alarm clock <ul><li>Lie Jie uses the mobile phone as a watch and she is convinced that “nowadays cell phones are more important than watches, which can be neglected”. </li></ul><ul><li>Also Liu Qi and Zhang Hua Yan use their mobile phone as a watch and alarm clock. </li></ul><ul><li>Zhang Hua adds: “I don’t wear a watch, because it is inconvenient and uncomfortable”. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Battery <ul><li>Batteries are archetypes of trivial objects whose presence is not put in question by individuals (Appadurai, 1986; Miller, 1998) </li></ul><ul><li>- an increasing dependency on these power sources; </li></ul><ul><li>- many forms of social ritualization, connected to this warning about the short life of batteries. </li></ul>

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