Event date: 8 November 2010
Birkbeck Main Building
Anthony Elliott – Mobile Lives, Digital Emotions
This paper examines how our personal and professional lives today – what John Urry and I call our ‘mobile lives’ – are increasingly interwoven with digital communication technologies and are reshaped in the process as techno-mobilities. Throughout the paper I explore how mobile lives are fashioned and transformed through various technological forms – virtualities, electronic discourse – in the emotional connections people develop with themselves, others and the wider world. Today’s culture of mobile lives, I argue, is substantially created in and through the deployment of various miniaturized mobilities – mobile phones, laptop computers, wireless connections. Computers and databases, mobile telephony and SMS texting, the Internet and email, digital broadcast and satellites: all go into the psychic production and emotional reorganization of mobile lives. Yet new technologies also facilitate the mobilization of feelings and affect, memories and desires, dreams and anxieties. For what is at stake in the deployment of new communication technologies in mobile lives, I contend, are not simply an increased digitization of social relationships, but a broad and extensive change in how emotions are contained (stored, deposited, retrieved) and thus an emotional restructuring of identity more generally. Throughout the discussion, psychoanalytic theory – specifically the work of Wilfred Bion and Christopher Bollas – is drawn upon in order to develop an account of the intricate relations between identities, new technologies and new mobilities.
Anthony Elliott is Chair of Sociology at Flinders University, Australia; Visiting Research Professor at the Open University, UK, and from 2010-2013 Visiting Professor at University College Dublin, Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and his writings have been published in sixteen languages. His recent books include Making The Cut (2008), Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction (2009), The New Individualism (2009, 2E, with Charles Lemert) and Mobile Lives (2010, with John Urry). He is the editor of The Routledge Companion to Social Theory (2010) and is coeditor of Globalization: A Reader (2010).
introduction – Stephen Frosh .