Perpetual contact? Family life in an age of mobile communication - Prof James E. Katz

Cultural Technologies Node

Public Lecture

5pm Thursday 5 June 2008

Webster Building, Room 327 (Theatrette)
University of New South Wales, Kensington

Supported by the ARC Cultural Research Network & Journalism & Media Research Centre UNSW

All welcome, please rvsp to Gerard Goggin:


Now that the overwhelming majority of teens and parents in the developed world have mobile phones, it is worth considering how this technology is affecting social interaction among family members. This question is important because families are relying on mobiles for communicating and coordinating even as the family as a system is being put under greater stress by demands from the larger society. The role of mobile communication devices in family life is also an important question because policymakers are increasingly looking to mobile phones to address critical social problems ranging from educational quality to public safety.

In this lecture, I examine what is happening to family communication patterns as a result of mobile technology. My focus is primarily on the USA though I also draw on data from other countries. My sources range from surveys and case studies to interviews and news reports. Based on this examination, I seek to identify the way mobile phones are used in family life and the implications of these practices for parent-child relationships, social integration, and peer socialization.

About Professor James E. Katz:

James E. Katz, Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Communication at Rutgers University where he also directs the Center for Mobile Communication Studies. His present focus is on how personal communication technologies, such as mobile phones and the Internet, affect social relationships and how cultural values influence usage patterns of these technologies. Currently he heads an NSF-sponsored project with the New Jersey Liberty Science Center museum to investigate ways to stimulate teens from urban environments to use mobile communication technology for informal science and health learning.

Professor Katz has devoted his career to exploring the relationship among the domains of science and technology, knowledge and information, and social processes and public policy. He has been granted two patents and has won several awards including the 2009 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Twentieth Century Communications History, which will take him to Italy, as well as Bellcore's Distinguished Member of Staff Award, a Mellon Foundation Scholar award, and the Distinguished Scholar Award of the Society for the Social Study of Mobile Communication. He has won post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard and MIT. Katz is also the author of more than 50 refereed journal articles. His books, which include Magic in the Air: Mobile Communication and the Transformation of Social Life and Social Consequences of Internet
Use: Access, Involvement, Expression
, have been translated into Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. His latest volume, published by MIT Press, is Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies.

Location: Room 327 (Theatrette), Webster Building

Kensington campus, University of New South Wales (click here for map)

For further information, contact Professor Gerard Goggin, Journalism and Media Research Centre, University of New South Wales: