Heterotextuality and Digital Foreplay: Cell phones and the culture of teenage romance

J. Cupples, L. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The now ubiquitous cell phone as digital media and communication technology invites a proliferation of uses and meanings. The ways in which young people have taken up cell phones in general and text messaging in particular seems to create cyborgian subjectivities in a refashioned mobile social network. This resulting digital-social network constructs a space in which young people perform identities that, while conventionally gendered in some ways, also show signs of increasing communicative competence, particularly in potentially romantic relationships. Text messaging seems to become a nonthreatening space where young people check each other out without risking as much shame or embarrassment as may occur in face-to-face encounters. By focusing on everyday human-machine entanglements using actor-network theory as a framework, it is evident that gender is produced by technological devices as well as by discourses and human forms of meaning making, thus confirming the absence of either essentialised gender or essentialised understandings of technology. Gender is performed through a proliferating network within which humans, machines and other actors are entangled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


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