Small Circles: Mobile Telephony and the Cultivation of the Private Sphere
Rich Ling, Johannes Bjelland, Pål Roe Sundsøy and Scott Campbell
This article examines how we use mobile telephony to maintain our physically and socially closest social circle. The analysis is based on traffic data gathered from Norway using approximately 24 million calls and texts made by private individuals. Previous research has shown that our temporal and spatial movement is highly predictable and that the majority of calls and text messages are sent to only 4 - 6 different persons. This article extends this research by examining both tie strength as well as the distance between the interlocutors in urban and rural settings. The findings show that even as ICTs potentially put the world at our fingertips, the mobile phone is an instrument of a more limited geographical and social sphere. Approximately two thirds of our calls/texts go to strong ties that are within a 25 km radius.
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