Paolo Boccagni and Raelene Wilding (La Trobe University) are convening a session within the XX ISA World Congress of Sociology (Melbourne, June 25 – July 1, 2023). The session is on Smartphones As Micro-Homes, Away from Home? Comparing Forms of Portable and Digital Homemaking Among Displaced Young People. Deadline for abstract submission: September 30. More below!
Smartphones As Micro-Homes, Away from Home? Comparing Forms of Portable and Digital Homemaking Among Displaced Young People
RC31 Sociology of Migration (host committee)
Mobile and smart phones are part and parcel of everyday lives for asylum seekers and refugee settlers in all sorts of housing, legal and economic circumstances. While empirical research on their use, meanings and implications is in constant expansion, this session aims to facilitate a deeper understanding of their sociological relevance in three respects: as biographically and socio-culturally embedded technologies, as ‘material agents’ in themselves, and, more fundamentally, as critical tools for homemaking. For young people from refugee backgrounds and asylum seekers experiencing protracted waiting, mobile phones operate as affordances for homemaking and even as proxies of home, in multiple respects. Smartphones give access, at relatively little cost, to global flows of information, images, ideas and commodities, whereby refugees can visualize different worlds and nourish imaginaries of alternative and better futures – without necessarily having the means, resources and opportunities to pursue them. Smartphones and social media enable frequent and cheap contact with people living elsewhere, which may facilitate forms of mutual care and shared life projects, as much as conflicts and mutual control. Smartphones store images, videos and texts that constitute a portable archive of meaningful memories – the more important, the lesser people’s access to material infrastructures, under protracted displacement. Smartphones, by their very existence and use, may contribute to fill apparently empty timespaces, while being also a resource for interaction with majority societies. Our session invites empirical contributions along these lines – in short, on smartphones as portable homes – in a comparative and politically relevant perspective.