Mobile Transformations of 'Public' and 'Private' Life.

Sheller, M. and Urry, John (2003) Mobile Transformations of 'Public' and 'Private' Life. Theory, Culture and Society, 20 (3). pp. 107-125. ISSN 1460-3616

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Most conceptions of public and private life within political and social theory do not adequately consider the networks or fluidities involved in contemporary social relations. The distinction of public and private is often conceived of as statically `regional' in character. This article, following an extensive analysis of the multiple meanings of the `public' and `private', criticizes such a static conception and maintains that massive changes are occurring in the nature of both public and private life and especially of the relations between them. We consider flows and networks that enable mobility between and across apparent publics and privates. These mobilities are both physical (in the form of mobile people, objects and hybrids of humans-in-machines) and informational (in the form of electronic communication via data, visual images and texts). We consider the transformations of public and private life that have arisen from `complex' configurations of place and space: the dominant system of car-centred automobility whose spatial fluidities are simultaneously private and public; and various globalizations through the exposure of `private' lives on public screens and the public screening of mediatized events. These mobile, machinic examples demonstrate the limitations of the static, regional conceptualizations of public and private life developed within much social and political theory, and suggest that this divide may need relegation to the dustbin of history.

Item Type:
Journal Article
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Theory, Culture and Society
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co-author RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Sociology
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14 Mar 2008 15:05
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 20:11