The use and meaning of mobile phones in student lives
This thesis demonstrates the popularity of mobile telephony within a population of undergraduate students, and provides explanations regarding the adoption, use and meaning of mobile phones therein. Research has been conducted at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne amongst 1030 18-24 year old, full-time, UK-resident 'traditional entry' students, using social science methods. Due to a lack of existing research on this type of population, the thesis also includes ethnographic data from the everyday lives of the individuals concerned. This data in turn supports the main findings of the research. Although some theorists conceptualise the mobile phone as `impacting' on social life, this research adopts a `social shaping' approach from work in social studies of technology, and is also informed by social anthropology. This theoretical basis helps formulate the argument that changes engendered by the mobile phone must be viewed in association with other recent changes within the University and its population. Correspondingly, the thesis suggests that the mobile phone is now integral to what Haselgrove (1994) terms the 'student experience', precisely because of the nature of this experience for the contemporary undergraduate population. The thesis therefore provides an explanation of the adoption rates, use patterns and meanings associated with mobile phones within the undergraduate population at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, in conjunction with a study of their behaviours and attitudes. It concludes that the use and meaning of mobile phones in student lives is directly linked to the specific circumstances of the population studied.