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Title: Versions of the future in relation to mobile communication technologies
Author: Moore, Karenza
ISNI:       0000 0001 3417 324X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2003
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The future may be something we plan for, something we fear, a ‘place’ where the routines of the present continue or the traditions of yesteryear are threatened, or a rhetorical realm of fantastical predictions of space colonization and ‘anytime, anywhere’ communication. In short we speculate, imagine, and contest these futures in attempts to articulate this perhaps unknowable entity with the tools of our contemporary age. Stories are told about the ‘Wireless World’ and the ‘Post-Industrial Society’ we live in: an unprecedented era where information communication technologies have the power to transform our world. Some maintain that we are entering a ‘Mobile Age’ where high-speed, mobile telecommunication devices will alter the ways in which we live our lives. How might the social researcher interrogate such ‘future talk’? How are we best able to equip ourselves with the analytical tools to understand such talk and to question the assumptions built into these ‘versions of the future’ circulating within our socio-cultural world? Contemporary discourses surrounding mobile communication technologies include dialogues about ‘the future’ that serve as a useful starting point for an attempt to answer the above questions. This research investigates ‘versions of the future’ linked to discourse about mobile communication technologies from a variety of sources. These include material from mobile telecommunication corporations, the writings of ‘futurologists’ and ‘blue sky’ researchers, data from focus groups with young people, and a number of popular and specialist media texts. It is suggested that ‘versions of the future’ are built up using a variety of social and cultural resources, which both employ, and are implicated in, the symbolic meanings and cultural assumptions of our present social world. I explore how this construction of ‘versions of the future’ is achieved, how these versions are authorised and made ‘commonsensical', and how meanings and actions in relation to mobile communication technologies may be delineated by these versions which form part of our social world. These ‘versions of the future’ will not be taken as the basis for a predictive model of what will ‘really happen’ in the ‘mobile future’. Rather than an exercise in forecasting, this study will investigate the ways in which present assumptions about technological and socio-cultural spheres are embedded within contemporary futures or ‘versions of the future’. Through a variety of devices, including the deployment of humour, technological and social determinism, the strategic deployment of popular science fiction references and a combination of fantastical imaginings and ‘common-sense’ reasoning, accounts of the future are produced and in turn delineate what can be said about the future in relation to mobile communication technologies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available