Taken for Grantedness

Taken for Grantedness

The Embedding of Mobile Communication into Society

By Richard Ling

An examination of how the mobile phone has become part of the fabric of society—as did such earlier technologies as the clock and the car.





An examination of how the mobile phone has become part of the fabric of society—as did such earlier technologies as the clock and the car.

Why do we feel insulted or exasperated when our friends and family don't answer their mobile phones? If the Internet has allowed us to broaden our social world into a virtual friend-net, the mobile phone is an instrument of a more intimate social sphere. The mobile phone provides a taken-for-granted link to the people to whom we are closest; when we are without it, social and domestic disarray may result. In just a few years, the mobile phone has become central to the functioning of society. In this book, Rich Ling explores the process by which the mobile phone has become embedded in society, comparing it to earlier technologies that changed the character of our social interaction and, along the way, became taken for granted.

Ling, drawing on research, interviews, and quantitative material, shows how the mobile phone (and the clock and the automobile before it) can be regarded as a social mediation technology, with a critical mass of users, a supporting ideology, changes in the social ecology, and a web of mutual expectations regarding use. By examining the similarities and synergies among these three technologies, Ling sheds a more general light on how technical systems become embedded in society and how they support social interaction within the closest sphere of friends and family.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262018135 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 7 figures


  • While mobile communication may have entered the realm of the mundane, Rich Ling's story about how it got there is anything but. This book makes an important and timely contribution to the way we think about mobile communication in an age when many of our 'new media' are not so new anymore.

    Scott W. Campbell

    Constance F. and Arnold C. Pohs Endowed Professor of Telecommunications, University of Michigan

  • The mobile phone is perhaps the great technology of our age, and with Taken for Grantedness, it has met its match. Rich Ling offers us a rich, subtle, profound account of how it has taken its place as the technology without which our worlds cannot make sense—rivaling its close cousins, the clock and the car. In doing so, Ling persuades us with grace and humor, and wide-ranging reference, that the mobile phone has become the essential thing for social creatures like us. Indispensable reading from the sociologist of mobile communication today.

    Gerard Goggin

    Professor and Chair, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney