The 'mastery' of the swipe: Smartphones, transitional objects and interstitial time

Sharif Mowlabocus


Have you ever noticed people using their smartphones while waiting for the train? Or people reaching for their phones when suddenly alone in a restaurant? Or people staring intently at their screens before a meeting begins? In this paper I seek to establish a dialogue between two critical methodologies — psychoanalysis and critical political-economy — in order to consider the role of this form of ‘distracted’ smartphone use in everyday life. The aim of this discussion is to broaden our understanding of ‘mundane’ phone use and suggest a way of conceptualising this behaviour at both an individual level and at the level of society.

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