The hermeneutic circle of cellphone use

four universal moments in a Malaysian narrative of continuing contact

Tony Wilson, Florence Thang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Telephone users are teleological or future-oriented - temporarily apart, anticipatory, they articulate and appropriate meaning. Often, gender and generational cultures are held to differ in their accessing of phone formats and functions (call, data download, email, internet, multimedia and short message services). Drawing upon hermeneutic theory of understanding, the article argues that despite this diversity, there are four underlying universal cognitive moments characterizing the process of receiving and responding to handphone content: (1) perceiving and simultaneously (2) projecting potential narrative; (3) producing a coherent call, message or text; and (4) positioning the significance of cellphone meaning for a life-world. Referring to this fourfold ludology of immersion and inferring content allows us to consider in conceptual detail Malaysian corporate and consumer narratives of employing handphone technology. Philosophically grounded theory shows how culturally concrete experiences of cellphone use during work and leisure instantiate abstract patterns of understanding in reception and response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-963
Number of pages19
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Cellphone
  • Hermeneutics
  • Immersive
  • Ludic
  • Malaysia
  • Media use
  • Phenomenology
  • Play
  • Reception

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