Portable Communities: The Social Dynamics of Online and Mobile Connectedness

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In contemporary American life, community has become a portable phenomenon-you can "get it to go" wherever and whenever it is desired at the push of a button, mouse, or keyboard. In Portable Communities, sociologist Mary Chayko examines the social dynamics and implications of having access to countless others at any time. Teeming with the observations of people who blog, email, instant message, game, and chat on cell phones, wireless computers, and other portable devices, the book captures the appeal and the excitement, the challenges and the complexities, of online and mobile connectedness. Chayko considers some of the external dynamics that emerge as these communities resonate within the larger society-constant availability, social interaction that is more controlled and controllable, and new opportunities for self-expression, creativity, and even voyeurism. Internal social dynamics involving emotionality, intimacy, play, romance, and networking are also fully explored. Portable Communities provides a unique view of shifts in the social landscape and points the way toward needed social and political change.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Portable Communities is the first book to clearly identify the importance of mobile media in the evolution of new forms of social relations. Anyone interested in matters of online community, identity, and social media should read this absolutely terrific book.— Steven G. Jones, editor of CyberSociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community and CyberSociety 2.0: Revisiting Computer-Mediated Communication and Community, and founder, Association of Internet Researchers

"This book addresses how advances in technology are altering the form and content of social relationships. It is THE central question sociologists must address in the coming decades."— Rebecca G. Adams, coeditor of Deadhead Social Science: You Ain't Gonna Learn What You Don't Want to Know

"In the old days, we had to travel to our friends, families, and social networks. Now, Mary Chayko shows us, we take our networks with us, connecting by text, voice, and video wherever we-and they-are. Chayko's timely and fascinating book provides a guide to the new world of 'communities to go.'"— Barry Wellman, coeditor of The Internet in Everyday Life and Director, NetLab, University of Toronto

"In this fascinating volume, Mary Chayko explores the way people use their communication technologies to produce conviviality and connections. She insightfully captures people playfully and seriously engaging their online and mobile communities, and she shows how ordinary physical limits are transcended to create rich worlds of meaning and interaction."— James E. Katz, author of Magic in the Air: Mobile Communication and the Transformation of Social Life and Director, Center for Mobile Communication Studies, Rutgers University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791475997
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 10/9/2008
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Chayko is Professor of Sociology at the College of Saint Elizabeth and the author of Connecting: How We Form Social Bonds and Communities in the Internet Age, also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents

I Introduction: The Internet, Mobile Phones, and Community

1 The Portability of Social Connectedness 3

II Internal Dynamics: Inside the Portable Community

2 Thinking in Tandem: Cognitive Connectedness 17

3 Feeling Connected: Emotionality and Intimacy 43

4 Playing Around: Fun, Games, and Hanging Out 63

5 Social Networking: Convenience, Practicality, and Sociability 87

III External Dynamics: The Portable Community in the Society

6 Being There: Constant Availability 113

7 Harnessing Social Interaction: The Control of Time, Space, and People 141

8 Creating, Expressing, and Extending the Self (and Watching Others Do So) 159

9 Shaping the Social Landscape: Equalities, Inequalities, Possibilities 183

Appendix 1 The Methodology 205

Appendix 2 Profiles of Interview Subjects 215

Notes 233

References 255

Index 291

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012

    An Excellent Book: A Must Read!!

    Portable Communities is such an excellent book, going into depth as to how technology affects our society not only in small groups, but larger ones as well. Dr. Mary Chayko does a wonderful job explaining the sociological factors in how people connect virtually, and provides examples of other people’s perspectives of the Internet. This is an outstanding book for anyone who has an interest in learning about the positive and negative aspects in socializing with others in an online atmosphere.

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