Politics, Civil Society and Participation: Media and Communications in a Transforming Environment

Title chapter: Communication in the public space: Attention and media use
Author: Julia Roll
Keywords: mobile media use, public places, attention, involvement, qualitative approach
Abstract: Using media is an everyday phenomenon. Cell phone and smartphone usage, in particular, have been the subject of much research. When referring to this, media appropriation research shows that negotiation processes concerning proper media usage in different contexts are not exclusively limited to innovations; they also take place within well-established daily media practices. A frequent research topic deals with how media users either pay attention to their mobile communication devices or their surrounding environment. In this context attention is not only a psychological but also a social matter. However, the literature review unveils that this duality is widely neglected by psychology and sociology. Drawing on Goffman’s (1963, 1974) public interaction order concept, Hoeflich’s (2003) media frame approach and the Mobile Phone Appropriation Model (Wirth/von Pape/Karnowski, 2008), a multistage research design was conducted in order to explore how smartphone users deal with their attention in different contexts in the public space. Containing guided interviews, media diaries and sketches of everyday life practices of media users, the results show how the integration of different disciplines enables new insights into changes in everyday media practices. Smartphone usage in public places is highly context specific, but also influenced by cross-context factors like habitualized media usage patterns.
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