Location and Unlocation: Examining Gender and Telephony through Autoethnographic Textual and Visual Methods

Lia Bryant, Mona Livholts

Abstract


Studies on gender and telephony tend to be quantitative and depict the purposes for which women and men use mobile telephones and landlines. Qualitative studies on the topic predominantly rely on face-to-face interviews to examine how telephone use genders space. We suggest these traditional methods of data collection leave unexamined the emotional and social relationships that emerge and are enabled by telephone use, which at times reconfigure and gender social spaces. In this article we present a collaborative autoethnographic inquiry based on our own telephone lives. We introduce a reflexive visual and textual methodological design, specifically diary notes, memory work, and photography, developed from our lives as researcher and researched. We examine an important theme in our findings, the physical placement of the telephone and the phone holder’s awareness of the physicality of the telephone, which illustrates the importance of our methodological choices. We show how the placement of the phone by the users both genders space and creates emotional spaces.

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