WP198 Cool mobilities: Youth style and mobile telephony in contemporary South Africa

Bock, Dalawai & Stroud


Considerable research on social media has documented the diversity and creativity inherent in many youth texting styles and instant messaging.? However, little scholarship has explored the impact of changing technologies on texting styles, nor how the materiality of the phone is a stylistic resource in itself. This paper aims to address these gaps by exploring the role of phone, affordance, and application in the texting styles of young students over a five year period at a higher education institution in South Africa. Central to our account is a view of style as an ?assemblage of design choices? (Coupland 2007).? We argue that our conception of style needs to be expanded to take into account both the materiality of the phone as artefact, as well as users? interpersonal affect and subjectivity. We use our analysis to make the argument that the changing technologies and their associated affordances provide new resources for styling identity among our participants, and that what shapes the selection and combination of both linguistic features of texting as well as choice of mobile technologies is a fluid and complex interplay of factors, driven by the participant?s changing identities and ideologies as well as an appreciation of what is symbolically valued and socially ?cool?.