C42 Rice, R.E., & Katz, J. (2003). Mobile discourtesy: National survey results on episodes of convergent public and private spheres. In Kristof, N. (Eds), Mobile democracy: Essays on society, self and politics (pp. 53-64). Vienna: Passagen Verlag.


Because it involves speaking and concentration, mobile phone usage also represents a new incursion of the private into the public (as opposed to the more critiqued incursion of the public/corporate into the private realm of home and relationships).  Indeed, we find much more evidence of perceived thoughtlessness of generalized others using their mobile phones in public (especially while driving, but also in restaurants, movies and other public places) (67%) than of one’s own spouse/bestfriend (around 10%).  And, even those thoughtless uses are more perceived by those who have satisfying communication with their socially close others, have children, and use the phone less frequently to communicate with their spouse/bestfriend.   It seems likely that use by one’s spouse/bestfriend is perceived and evaluated in the context of a private setting, and thus seen as less thoughtless, even while others are perceiving that very same interaction as a thoughtless incursion into their public setting.  In this sense, we have some preliminary evidence of a convergence of the public and the private, with the private interaction trumping the public peace, as well as perceptions of behaviors.

Click here for PDF copy of publication