Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 255–276 | Cite as

Electronic Narcissism: College Students' Experiences of Walkman Listening

  • Shing-Ling S. Chen


In an effort to investigate the consequences of the electronic media on the audience, the author examines the impact of the Walkman on the experiences of the listeners. To study the experience of Walkman listeners, the author analyzed the journals of 40 college students regarding their experiences in listening to their Walkmans. In the study, the technological features of the Walkman, the expressive bias and the privatization, are specified and their impact on the nature of the experiences of the listeners are analyzed. The author argues that narcissism best describes the experiences fostered by the expressive bias and the privatization of the Walkman. Narcissism is used here to refer to the visceral sensation and the social segregation one experiences as one listens to the Walkman. The author concludes that electronic narcissism, far from being a pathological act, is in fact a sign of mental health.

Walkman evocative bias narcissism 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shing-Ling S. Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of Northern IowaCedar Falls

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