Smartphone resistance as media ambivalence

Rivka Ribak, Michele Rosenthal


In this paper, we develop the notion of media ambivalence to account for such seemingly unrelated practices as content filtering, screen-time limitation and social media rejection. We propose that as compared to resistances to dedicated communication technologies with an on/off button, resistances in a neoliberal age of ubiquitous, convergent media are temporary and local. Analyzing interviews with smartphone resisters, we discuss their critique of smartphone culture; their investment in their feature phones and their pride and unease over using them; and their sense that their resistance cannot last. Interpreting smartphone resistance as a form of media ambivalence, we suggest that in terms of scope, contemporary resistance is aimed at a single medium, platform or practice that is singled out of the convergence; that its meaning develops over time along with technological and cultural changes; and that it acquires personal, social and political significance from related uses and resistances.

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