Our Generation & the iPhone

I just found an article that is perfect to add to my thesis – Hui Jiang’s “Young People’s Consumption and Adoption of a Cultural Commodity – iPhone.” His research generally backs up the majority of material I have already found; the ongoing debate over whether or not the iPhone encourages or discourages our connections with others; the emotional attachment iPhone owners develop towards the phone; and deems the iPhone an official “cultural artifact,” due to “its connection with a distinct set of social practices which are specific to our culture or way of life…it is associated with certain kinds of people, with certain places…the image of the iPhone…has become a sort of metaphor, which stands for or represents a distinctively late-modern, technological culture or way of life.” It was crazy to me to hear someone refer to the iPhone as an “artifact,” but, judging by the definition of the term, I guess I can’t really argue. In his study, Jiang analyzes the adoption and consumption experiences that come with purchasing and owning an iPhone. He defines the adoption process as people’s perceptions of the iPhone prior to buying one, the consumption angle focuses on the reality of the iPhone after purchasing, and Jiang compares participant’s opinions during both of these phases. He breaks down the advantages of owning an iPhone into functional and symbolic, the former referring to the technological benefits of the device, and the latter reflecting a more psychological need. He offers a wide variety of subjects’ responses that I plan on including in my paper. While he is justified in classifying the iPhone as an artifact and giving it the recognition it deserves, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing to know that it has reached that level, that something like a Smartphone has literally become a necessity in our culture. Jiang also makes a strong point in noting that all types of mobile phones, but obviously iPhones in particular, are a means for one to “emancipate themselves from space.” That is, personal space is no longer a physical matter, for in any given situation, you can just go on your phone and mentally check out. And with that, I refuse to believe that something that allows you to shut out the world with such ease is something that society needs. 

http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/mediaWorkingPapers/MScDissertationSeries/2010/2nd/Jiang.pdf

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