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A World Through the Camera Phone Lens: a Case Study of Beijing Camera Phone Use

Abstract

While the camera phone is becoming widely used among mobile phone users, this new technology is changing the perspective from which we see the world and thus changing our thoughts and lives. In order to understand what this convergence means to us, this research makes a case study of 16 mobile phone users in Beijing urban area and attempts to analyze how the camera phone is used in both self-construction and self-identification processes. The case study illustrates that the camera phone is helping people record what they experience at any time and place and thus impacting upon how they experience the world. Consequently, this digitalized copy of life promotes the social reflectivity, which can be seen as facilitating the emerging civil society in China’s rapidly transforming technoculture.

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Notes

  1. In 1991, there were only 47,500 mobile phone subscribers. While in 1995, this number increased to 3,630,000. By February 2009, the mobile phone users in China had reached to 660,000,000 (data provided by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China 2009). There is also a significant difference of mobile phone adoption between the urban and the rural, which is greatly due to the economic reasons. The mobile phone penetration in urban China is much higher. For example, by 2007, the penetration of the mobile phone in Beijing had already arrived to 97.5%, which was much higher than the fixed phone penetration at the time (57.2%; data provided by Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics 2007).

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Correspondence to Bo Gai.

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Gai, B. A World Through the Camera Phone Lens: a Case Study of Beijing Camera Phone Use. Know Techn Pol 22, 195–204 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12130-009-9084-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12130-009-9084-x

Keywords

  • Camera phone
  • Social impact
  • Self-identity
  • Reflectivity