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The advanced use of mobile phones in five European countries


  • The preliminary results of this study were presented by the second author in ‘Lifestyle and Mobile Communication Workshop’ at Åbo Akademi University, Finland, on 22–23 November 2011. In addition to the organizers of the workshops, anonymous referees and the editorial team of the British Journal of Sociology, we would like to thank Telecom Italia for funding the survey and the Academy of Finland (Project No. 137446) whose research funding enabled Dr Taipale's participation in this study.


The paper explores the advanced users of mobile phones in Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK (EU5 countries) and aims to clarify the social meaning of advanced use. The mobile phone is seen as a strategic tool of social labour, whose capabilities are exploited to a different extent in the five studied countries. The analysis is based on a cross-national survey data collected in 2009 (N = 7,255). First, the results show that there are substantial differences in the advanced use of mobile phone and its predictors in Europe. Generally, only about one third of the studied mobile features are exploited. British and French people are the most advanced users, followed by German, Spanish and Italians. While Italians have stuck to early developed mobile phone features, Britons especially have continued to adopt the newer properties of the mobile phone. Second, the article shows that owing to the extensive under-utilization of its features, the mobile phone as a tool of social labour is efficiently exploited by only a small number of people. They, however, constitute technological vanguards that make use of the diverse features in different countries. This limited use of advanced features results in the new patterns of social stratification.