The Cell Phone : An Anthropology of Communication book cover
1st Edition

The Cell Phone
An Anthropology of Communication

ISBN 9781845204013
Published July 31, 2006 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

Few modern innovations have spread quite so quickly as the cell phone. This technology has transformed communication throughout the world. Mobile telecommunications have had a dramatic effect in many regions, but perhaps nowhere more than for low-income populations in countries such as Jamaica, where in the last few years many people have moved from no phone to cell phone. This book reveals the central role of communication in helping low-income households cope with poverty. The book traces the impact of the cell phone from personal issues of loneliness and depression to the global concerns of the modern economy and the transnational family. As the technology of social networking, the cell phone has become central to establishing and maintaining relationships in areas from religion to love. The Cell Phone presents the first detailed ethnography of the impact of this new technology through the exploration of the cell phone's role in everyday lives.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: IntroductionChapter Two: InfrastructureChapter Three: LocationsChapter Four: PossessionChapter Five: Link-UpChapter Six: CopingChapter Seven: PressureChapter Eight: WelfareChapter Nine: Evaluation

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Daniel Miller teaches in the Department of Anthropology, University College London.Heather A Horst is Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for New Media, University of California Berkeley.


"In this brilliant account of cell phone use among low-income people in Jamaica, anthropologists Horst and Miller demonstrate the critically important contributions that anthropology can make the communication studies...indispensable reading for the anthropology of communication and the anthropology of policy. - A. Arno, Choice What kind of an object does the cell phone become in the hands of low income Jamaicans? In this insightful study, Horst and Miller explore what it means when the phone's leading attribute is less its mobility, or the mobility that it enables, than the possibility of intensifying connections already in play. Conjoining close place-based ethnography with broad historical, political and economic contextualizations, this book further challenges simple stories of a technology's 'global impacts.' - Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University An ethnographic exploration of the significance of the cell phone for developing countries, which advances an anthropology of communication in new and fascinating directions. - Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics Horst and Miller give a dazzling display of new and innovative methods, combined with sophisticated use of anthropological theory. The writing is engaging and the descriptions of people and places are vivid, making this a wonderful resource for teaching. It will have a broad appeal in many disciplines, and any reader interested in new technologies will find surprises here. - Richard Wilk, Indiana University A landmark in mobile phone studies that will appeal to a wide audience and that is likely to frame debates in this field for some time to come. - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute"