AJC  Vol.6 No.2 , June 2018
Mobile Love in China: The Cultural Meaning and Social Implications of Mobile Communications in Romantic Relationships among Young Chinese Adults
Abstract: The current study takes a qualitative approach to examining the unique use of mobile communications in romantic relationships among young Chinese adults, a research field few scholars have evinced interest in at this point in time (Lim & Soriano, 2016: p. 4). The overarching question “What is the ‘Chinese-ness’ of the mobile phone user culture of young romantic couples regarding perpetual contact, boundary maintenance, and the connectedness-autonomy tension?” was answered by 15 semi-structured individual interviews. The findings suggest that 1) WeChat messaging was the most prominent mobile media platform used by the respondents to stay in “perpetual contact”, i.e., defined as a continuous conversation through frequent short messages between individuals not physically in the same location (Katz & Aakhus, 2002: p. 2). The interviewees wished to protect their relationship a couple by not disclosing too much or by preventing others from prying too far into it. 3) Respondents resolved the tension between the needs to connect with each other and to remain independent individuals by adopting the former approach. Respondents frequently practiced perpetual contact, supporting the Apparatgeist theory, which views mobile phones as mystical devices that allow constant communication with unseen others, combined with the collective construction of meaning (Katz & Aakhus, 2002). This current study further discusses relevant theoretical and social implications.
Cite this paper: Büchenbacher, K. and Chang, C. (2018) Mobile Love in China: The Cultural Meaning and Social Implications of Mobile Communications in Romantic Relationships among Young Chinese Adults. Advances in Journalism and Communication, 6, 38-54. doi: 10.4236/ajc.2018.62004.

[1]   Baxter, L. A., & Montgomery, B. M. (1996). Dialectical Approaches to Studying Personal Relationships (pp. 1-15). New York City: Guilford Press.

[2]   Coyne, S. M., Stockdale, L., Busby, D., Iverson, B., & Grant, D. M. (2011). “I luv u:)!”: A Descriptive Study of the Media Use of Individuals in Romantic Relationships. Family Relations, 60, 150-162.

[3]   Duran, R. L., Kelly, L., & Rotaru, T. (2011). Mobile Phones in Romantic Relationships and the Dialectic of Autonomy versus Connection. Communication Quarterly, 59, 19-36.

[4]   Hall, J. A., & Baym, N. K. (2012). Calling and Texting (Too Much): Mobile Maintenance Expectations, (Over) Dependence, Entrapment, and Friendship Satisfaction. New Media & Society, 14, 316-331.

[5]   Katz, J. E. (2007). Mobile Media and Communication: Some Important Questions. Communication Monographs, 74, 389-394.

[6]   Katz, J. E., & Aakhus, M. A. (2002). Perpetual Contact (p. 301). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[7]   Lanigan, J. D. (2009). A Sociotechnological Model for Family Research and Intervention: How Information and Communication Technologies Affect Family Life. Marriage & Family Review, 45, 587-609.

[8]   Licoppe, C. (2004). “Connected” Presence: The Emergence of a New Repertoire for Managing Social Relationships in a Changing Communication Technoscape. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 22, 135-156.

[9]   Lim, S. S., & Soriano, C. (2016). A (Digital) Giant Awakens—Invigorating Media Studies with Asian Perspectives. Asian Perspectives on Digital Culture: Emerging Phenomena, Enduring Concepts, 15, 1.

[10]   Miller-Ott, A. E., Kelly, L., & Duran, R. L. (2012). The Effects of Cell Phone Usage Rules on Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships. Communication Quarterly, 60, 17-34.

[11]   Peng, Y., & Chu, R. W. C. (2012). 13 Mobile Phone Usage in Chinese Society. Mobile Communication and Greater China, 1, 189.

[12]   Rawlins, G. J. (1992). Compared to What? An Introduction to the Analysis of Algorithms. Principles of Computer Science Series. New York: Computer Science Press.

[13]   Roberts, J. A., & David, M. E. (2017). Put Down Your Phone and Listen to Me: How Boss Phubbing Undermines the Psychological Conditions Necessary for Employee Engagement. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 206-217.

[14]   Xia Y. ,et al. (2012). Chinese Use of Mobile Texting for Social Interactions: Cultural Implications in the Use of Communication Technology Intercultural Communication Studies 21, 131-150.