New tech, new ties: How mobile communication is reshaping social cohesion

In Book, New Media on February 27, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Ling, R. (2008). New tech, new ties: How mobile communication is reshaping social cohesion. The MIT Press.

1. Mobile Communication and Ritual Interaction: The Plumber’s Entrance
2. ICT and Tension between Social and Individual Impulses
3. Durkheim on Ritual Interaction and Social Cohesion
4. Goffman on Ritual Interaction in Everyday Life
5. Collins and Ritual Interaction Chains
6. Ritual as Catalytic Event
7. Co-Present Interaction and Mobile Communication
8. Mobile Telephoney and Mediated Ritual Interaction
9. Bounded Solidarity: Mobile Communication and Cohesion in the Familiar Sphere
10. The Recalibration of Social Cohesion
“I turn to Rich Ling first when I want to get beyond hype and conjecture regarding the social uses and impacts of mobile media. His new book is a milestone. Anyone who wants to know how our use of mobile phones is changing our social lives should read this book.”
–Howard Rheingold, author of Tools for Thought, The Virtual Community, and Smart Mob

“This book connects classical sociological theorists such as Durkheim and Weber to the contemporary phenomena of mobile communication. While mobile messaging is mostly banal and apparently uninteresting, it reveals a need previously provided by ritual, to enrich everyday life by connecting its practices to notions of the sacred or the nouminous. Under the regimes of modernity, ritual has been debased and the sacred consigned to the sphere of spirituality. But the practices of everyday life still have to provide meaning and purpose for most people and the mobile phone is its unpretentious purveyor. Rich ling brings us back to the classical theorists by reminding us of the importance of finding significance in the ordinary.”
–Raul Pertierra, author of Txt-ing Selves: Cell phones and Philippine Modernity

Book Description
The message of this book is simple: the mobile phone strengthens social bonds among family and friends. With a traditional land-line telephone, we place calls to a location and ask hopefully if someone is “there”; with a mobile phone, we have instant and perpetual access to friends and family regardless of where they are. But when we are engaged in these intimate conversations with absent friends, what happens to our relationship with the people who are actually in the same room with us?

In New Tech, New Ties, Rich Ling examines how the mobile telephone affects both kinds of interactions–those mediated by mobile communication and those that are face to face. Ling finds that through the use of various social rituals the mobile telephone strengthens social ties within the circle of friends and family–sometimes at the expense of interaction with those who are physically present–and creates what he calls “bounded solidarity.”

Ling argues that mobile communication helps to engender and develop social cohesion within the family and the peer group. Drawing on the work of Emile Durkheim, Erving Goffman, and Randall Collins, Ling shows that ritual interaction is a catalyst for the development of social bonding. From this perspective, he examines how mobile communication affects face-to-face ritual situations and how ritual is used in interaction mediated by mobile communication. He looks at the evidence, including interviews and observations from around the world, that documents the effect of mobile communication on social bonding and also examines some of the other possibly problematic issues raised by tighter social cohesion in small groups.

About the Author
Rich Ling is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor and Adjunct Research Scientist at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Mobile Connection: The Cell Phone’s Impact on Society.



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