Social and Cultural Studies of the Telephone in American Life
Perhaps no other technology has done so much to so many, but been studied by so few, as the telephone. Even as its physical size diminishes, the telephone is becoming more important. In Connections, now available in paperback, James E. Katz gives greater visibility to this important element in modern life.
Katz examines how the telephone reveals gender relations in a way not predicted by feminist theories, how it can be used to protect and invade personal privacy, and how people harness telephone answering machines to their advantage. Katz's inquiry reports on obscene phone calls, the abuses of caller-ID technology, and attitudes toward voice mail. National data about cellular telephones are presented to show the extent to which beepers and car phones have become status symbols.
Katz ranges from microsocial interaction to macrosocial theory, and from the family and personal levels of organization to that of large-scale industrial bureaucracies. The result of this investigation is a compelling mosaic spanning sociology and psychology, and organization and communication studies. These arresting portraits will offer profound insight to historians, students of American culture, and those concerned about the nature and direction of the emerging information society.
“Outstanding Title! Katz (Rutgers Univ.) brings historical analogies and statistical models to bear on a particularly underresearched medium of communication... Katz's extensive research and analysis probes the impact of this old/new technology on individual, family, and corporate life. In section 2 Katz looks at related problems and controversies—namely, invasion of privacy, obscene phone calls, and gender relationships. Section 3 probes consumer attitudes toward telephone companies and the consumer's willingness to spend money on additional telephone technologies such as caller ID, voice-activated dialing, call waiting, etc. Katz's landmark study brings qualitative and quantitative data to bear on a communication medium that undoubtedly affects more people and more interpersonal and social outcomes than any other current medium but has been the least studied of all 20th-century media… [F]or graduate students and above.”
—R. Cathcart, Choice
"A fine assembly of research-based observations on the complex place of the telephone in American society. James Katz's mastery of his subject shines through every chapter."
—Robert K. Merton, University Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
"Caller ID, cellular phones, pagers, answering machines—all reveal remarkable, often surprising sides of American behavior, analyzed expertly in Connections. James Katz shows that social science can be rigorous, relevant, and readable. A must for professionals, and a treat for those at the receiving end of our communicopia."
—Edward Tenner, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, author of Why Things Bite Back