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.

Author Biographies

Rivka Ribak

Rivka Ribak is senior lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa.

Michele Rosenthal

Michele Rosenthal teaches in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa.




How to Cite

Ribak, R., & Rosenthal, M. (2015). Smartphone resistance as media ambivalence. First Monday, 20(11).