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Mobile Communication, the Internet and the Net of Social Relations. Friedrich Krotz University of Erfurt, Germany. Changing the Perspective: Analyzing the Mobile Phone vs. Analyzing the Everyday life of the people. Overview. Mediatization: becoming mediated by media

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Mobile Communication, the Internet and the Net of Social Relations

Friedrich Krotz

University of Erfurt, Germany

Changing the Perspective: Analyzing the Mobile Phone vs. Analyzing the Everyday life of the people


  • Mediatization: becoming mediated by media

  • Changing Social Relations by Mobile Phone and the Internet

  • But different changes by Mobile Phone and the Internet, refering to relations

  • Conclusions: Mediatization

1 Mediatization: becoming mediated by the media

Changing communication in society, culture and by individuals


  • Means a long term process of changing conditions of communication

  • as new media come up and old media are used in new ways and so the media environments of the people are changing

  • new forms of communication today (mainly: Mobile Net, Internet, Interactive Communication and the Mix of all)


  • As a construct (like Globalization and Individualization) to describe the development of the digital media becoming a part of culture and society

  • As a micro concept: to describe the changing everyday life of men and women by more and more using digital media

  • As a macro concept to describe the changing of economy, culture, society

Everyday Life in the industrial society

Everyday life in the media society

The Media


  • All areas of life are concerned: leisure and work,

  • new “realities” and situations came up

  • new orientations by reference and membership groups

  • new experiences, roles, social relations

  • New forms of identity and of forms of living together

2 Changing social relations by Mobile Phone and Internet

In the industrial Society

Most people mainly lived in an net of personal, social and parasocial relations

  • Personal Relations maintained by Face-to-face-communication,

  • With media of interpersonal communication being helpful from time to time

  • Maintained by mass media (parasocial relations)

  • (all media help to maintain social relations between social groups)

The Net of (para-)social/personal Relations

Ally McBeal


Working Colleague







Social Net by Membership- and Reference Groups

Social groups/classes …


Fans of the same

Soccer club

Team at the job /Peergroup



Fans liking the

same Music style, soap ...


The digitally mediated everyday life


Fans of the same

Soccer club

Ally McBeal


Team at the job /Peergroup

Working Colleague









Fans liking the

Same Music style


In the upcoming Media Society

  • The net of everyday life interaction and communication

  • is intertwined and intermingled by a net of digitally mediated forms of communication

  • especially by mobile phone and Internetrelated PC (more and more refering to interactive communication)

  • but how and with which effects?

Thesis: changing situations of Communication

For both the Internet and the mobile phone:

  • The use changes the situation a person is in as it separates from the present persons

  • The use in addition produces a simultaneous second situation as it connects with another person

  • Even the presence of a media influences the situation: It is a latent possibility. It serves to present myself in a specific way and to manage impression. It serves to control the situation.

Mobile phone and a given prior situation

Common face-to-face-Situation

Person A

Person B

Person D

Person C

Adresses a specific person

Control of situation

Computer/Internet and a given prior situation


Enter an open „virtual“ space

Person A

Household mebers or office colleagues

You must not adress a person, thus open for new relations

Politics of the family/the office


  • Mediatization: We more and more are in such simultaeous situations

  • Both media

  • Separate from the actual situation - but what type of situation?

  • Connects with other persons - but what type of persons?

  • Helps to control the situation - but what type of situation?

3 Differences between Internet/PC and Mobile Phone refering to relations

  • Thesis

  • Mobile phone and Internet/PC affect situation in a different way: Each changes another type of situations and each connect to another type of additional situation


  • Each of them is important for different situations

    • which it changes and

    • which it creates

  • by technical features

  • by Culture

The Internet


  • Traditionally and by culture, the computer is seen as a stand allone computer, which may have a connection to the Internet, in addition („Internet inside of PC“)

  • Technically, Internet/PC is mostly used at home or in office, as they are not so easy to transport

  • Thus, Internet/PC

  • Is important for the politics of the family and organizes difference, e.g. between man and woman

  • separates from relations to colleagues, household and family (specific place or room)

  • Using the internet is organized as entering a virtual space, there you can maintain existing relations, but you also can start new relations

Mobile Phone

The mobile phone

  • Is culturally understood as a phone (although it is a little computer). Therefor, it seen to be used mainly to speak with a selected other person (or send him or her a SMS), the adress of which you know

  • Technically it may be used (nearly) everywhere, as the connecting nets are everywhere and it is easy to transport

Thus, the mobile phone

  • Mostly plays a role to control situations and manage impressions outside of home

  • Mostly separates from unknown people in unknown situations/does not disturb relations

  • Using the mobile phone means you must adress a specific person with his/her phone number – it connects mainly with known persons

  • You can only maintain existing relations

Separates from relations to family/colleagues

Is important for the politics of family

Using the Internet is organized to enter a specific „virtual“ space

There one can maintain personal relations, but you one can also start new relations

Separates from often unknown persons/ no relations

Helps to Controll the situation /manage impressions

Signalizes a life style

Connects with known persons an identifier of which you must know

Helps to maintain relations in mobile times

Personal Relations byInternet/PC Mobile phone

4 Conclusions: Mediatization

  • Every individual lives in a space of possible contacts

  • and in a net of personal, social and parasocial relations, based on all types of communication contacts:

    • Interpersonal face to face

    • Interpersonal mediated

    • Parasocial

    • interactive/artificial

Starting from the everyday life of people we know:

  • There is a space of possible communication contacts

  • a net of social, personal and parasocial relations based on realized communication contacts, more and more by different media

Social, Parasocial, Personal Relations

3.are important for social integration, the roles of a person, his or her experiences, reflection, inner dialog and thus for his or her social character and his identy

4.„A person is a society in miniature, as she or he consists of the roles and experiences made in roles“ (Lindesmith and Strauss, following Tamotsu Shibutani)

  • This space of possible contacts and also the net of relations is probably changed by the digital media

  • But these changes depend on which media is used and which cultural and technical conditions are given

  • Not only relations change, but in a similar way the orientation given by reference groups and membership groups

As a result about Mediatization:

  • The communicational and relational net of everyday live is overlapped by the net of digitalized communication

  • An intertwining and intermingling net of everyday life including digital media comes into existence, which gets more and more importance/different influences:

  • The mobile phone separates from more unknown situations and helps to maintain existing relations

  • The Internet/PC separates from given more stable structures and offers also new relations

If In/PC and Mobile phone are of future importance

  • we can conclude that different types of new persons will come into existence, depending on their media use

  • How stable are they? How different? It depends on what?

  • This needs long term empirical research

  • as a result of Mediatization/Element of Medium Theory

We are living in a huge experiment Who Controls?(Thanks for your attention)

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