Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Manifestation of Mobile Phone Assisted Personal Agency among University Students: Evidence from Lahore

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Manifestation of Mobile Phone Assisted Personal Agency among University Students: Evidence from Lahore

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The study was carried out to explore the manifestation of mobile phone assisted personal agency among university students. Personal Agency of Mobile Phone Users Scale was adapted to measure the practice of personal agency. The questionnaire was administered to a sample of 401 university students in Lahore. Findings of the study indicated three constituents of personal agency among youth; contactability, organizability and derestriction. Furthermore, duration of the possession of mobile phone was found significantly correlated with the practice of mobile phone assisted personal agency. Respondents reported that mobile phone has conferred upon them a sense of individual freedom and social connectedness. It has helped them to organize their daily activities. According to them, this electronic gadget has enabling effect and it enlivened their lives through its beeps and bells. The findings of the study are aligned with the results of D'Souza (2010) who did the pioneering study in exploring personal agency through mobile phone use. However, further research is required to explore the impact of mobile phone use on the lives of youth who have not been enrolled in the universities.

KEY WORDS: Mobile phone, University students, social object, contact ability, organize ability, de-restriction.

Introduction

In recent years, the mobile phone has become a social artifact rather than a technological gadget. The adoption of this device among youth has become a global phenomenon. This electronic miracle has emerged out as a leading mode of communication and an ultimate attribute of contemporary society (O'Brien, 2010). To people, this device belongs to their daily lives and they feel its absence whenever they are not carrying it. The tunes and beeps of the mobile phone have turned out to be part and parcel of the background noise of daily life (Katz & Aakhus, 2002). Especially, it has now become an integral part of young people's daily lives (Campbell, 2005). Touching the key pad of mobile phone gives both a sense of social connectedness and individual liberty. It has been transformed to a significant 'social object" rather than 'technological object' (Srivastava, 2005). It has revolutionized their life "across diverse cultures with its own norms, values, and patterns of behavior" (Nurullah, 2009), which is entirely different from the pre-mobile phone era. In this age, those who do not possess mobile phone are deemed as socially misfit and culturally awkward.

Mobile phone has transcended the traditional barriers of informal social control. The authoritative role of parents has declined as the use of mobile phone has provided the youth an opportunity to share their ideas and experience, and choices with their peers and friends unrestricted (Oksman & Turtiainen, 2004). This device promotes youth's interaction with the other people and provides a flexible lifestyle of instant information exchange and updates (Ito, 2004). Young people utilize this gadget in sharing their thoughts on different issues. This device allows them to share information instantly that they want to share with their peer group and friends (Habuchi, 2006). Ultimately this device has empowered young people by enabling them to communicate and interact with their peer group and friends (Ling & Yttri, 2005). Due to mobile phone, now the youth feels freer, more expressive and less restricted.

Mobile phone has loosened the clutches of social structure. Now, they can act independently practice as agents. This device has emerged out as social enabler and facilitator. Many researchers have investigated the concept of agency in relation to the mobile phone (D'Souza, 2010; Golden & Geisler, 2007; Lloyd, 2007). Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own choices (D'Souza, 2010). This concept has variegated interpretations ranging from 'moments of freedom' and 'effort' (Alexander, 1992, 1993), to the "ability to initiate self-change" (Thoits, 2003). …

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