Walking Phone Workers

Authored by: Lisa Parks

The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415667715
eBook ISBN: 9781315857572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934134


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As mobile telephones have emerged around the world over the past two decades they have altered people’s daily lives, making new practices of mediated conversation, messaging, photosharing, and game-playing, among other things, possible across public and private, indoor and outdoor, and moving and fixed locations. In the process they have also brought about new structures of attention and distraction, positioning and disorientation, connection and disconnection. Though billions of people in the world are now familiar with mobile devices, they tend to be less interested in the infrastructures that support them – the towers, transponders, transmitters, footprints, and workers that are involved in the trafficking of mobile telephone signals from one site to another. Ironically, most people only notice mobile phone infrastructures when they are conspicuously camouflaged as freakish-looking pine or palm trees, or when they appear in unseemly sites such as national parks or affluent neighborhoods (Parks, 2009a). As such examples imply, mobile phone infrastructures are not uniform; they vary from node to node and from country to country. Because of this, they should be conceptualized as sites of variation and studied in relation to particular socio-historical, geophysical, political, economic, and cultural conditions (Graham & Marvin, 2001; Horst & Miller, 2006; Larkin, 2008).

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