Society for the Social Study of Mobile Communications

The Society for the Social Study of Mobile Communication (SSSMC) is intended to facilitate the international advancement of cross-disciplinary mobile communication studies. It is intended to serve as a resource and to support a network of scholarly research as to the social consequences of mobile communication.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Front Stage - Backstage: Mobile communication and the renegotiation of the social sphere

Grimstad, Norway
22-24 Jun 2003
Organized by Telenor, the Agder University College and the Institute for Research on Economics and Business Administration

Following in the footsteps of successful conferences on the role of mobile telephony at Rutgers University in the US (1999, 2001), the Triennale in Milan (2001), Italy and at the International Communications Association pre-conference in Chunchon, Korea (2002), scholars, policy makers and industry representatives met at a conference on the social and economic meanings of mobile communication in Grimstad Norway in June 2003.

Mobile communication in its various forms, has arrived on the scene in a dramatic fashion. SMS, voice telephony, mobile Internet, WLAN technology, Bluetooth, PDAs and many other technologies and services are being used by broader and broader sections of society. Their general social acceptance and the increasing economic accessibility of mobile technologies have meant that they have been adopted and used by ever more groups in society. The use of these technologies has altered the way we interact, the way we present ourselves in both public and mediated communication and how we use our telecomm budgets. Taking a page from Goffman, we framed the conference around mobile communication's impact on our front stage facades, our back stage interactions – as well as the blurring of these two. Our goal was to provide a forum wherein social scientists, economists, policy makers and industry representatives could meet to examine the ways in which social practises and routines related to mobile communication have and will influence the way that we go about our everyday lives.

Approximately 25 papers were accepted for the conference. The papers examined how:

  • New forms of mobile technologies are providing new forms of communication 
  • Psychological and economic considerations play into the acceptance or rejection of new mobile technologies 
  • Mobile communication is affecting the way social situations play themselves out 

The seminar provided the possibility to present papers that had been reviewed by a peer review group. Through a cycle of positive critique we helped to insure the quality of the material presented and also to facilitated its further dissemination to a broader audience in the form of a book of readings that is now being prepared.