Research for Global Development

Dispatches from the Field: Love and Smart Phones in China



Cell Phone Status Markers in Yanbian China on Vimeo.

The proliferation of mobile technology is something that InterMedia is keenly interested in, from our work with Young Publics in under-researched societies like Iran to our extensive research in the Mobile Money space throughout Africa. While many of the effects of increasing mobile phone use can appear similar across different societies, it is important to remember that these technologies are also shaped by the particular cultural environment in which they are used.

The best way – perhaps the only way – to really understand how the use of new technologies is shaped and influenced by a particular cultural context is to spend time in the field observing the way people use these technologies and what these technologies mean to them in their everyday lives.

When I was in China doing some research on cell phone use among minority populations, I met up with Mingzhu, who lives in a city in the Northeast of the country called Yanji. She told me a great story about the importance of smart phones to young people there. Statistics enumerating the extremely fast growth of the smart phone market in China take on a whole new dimension when Mingzhu talks about going out to clubs in her hometown.

In DC not having a smart phone could mean you might miss an important email, in Yanji you might be missing out on love.

InterMedia

Dispatches from the Field: Love and Smart Phones in China



Cell Phone Status Markers in Yanbian China on Vimeo.

The proliferation of mobile technology is something that InterMedia is keenly interested in, from our work with Young Publics in under-researched societies like Iran to our extensive research in the Mobile Money space throughout Africa. While many of the effects of increasing mobile phone use can appear similar across different societies, it is important to remember that these technologies are also shaped by the particular cultural environment in which they are used.

The best way – perhaps the only way – to really understand how the use of new technologies is shaped and influenced by a particular cultural context is to spend time in the field observing the way people use these technologies and what these technologies mean to them in their everyday lives.

When I was in China doing some research on cell phone use among minority populations, I met up with Mingzhu, who lives in a city in the Northeast of the country called Yanji. She told me a great story about the importance of smart phones to young people there. Statistics enumerating the extremely fast growth of the smart phone market in China take on a whole new dimension when Mingzhu talks about going out to clubs in her hometown.

In DC not having a smart phone could mean you might miss an important email, in Yanji you might be missing out on love.

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