Mobile Media and the Urban Night: Embodiment, Mobile Devices and Darkness

This project explores the way mobile devices and networked connectivity are embedded in the routinized night-time practices and situational awareness of urban pedestrians. More specifically, through digital and haptic ethnography we investigate how mobile interfaces affect the perception of safety and risk in urban space, particularly at night, and detail how mobile devices are embodied as tools for connection, comfort and safety.

Thus far, the experience of many of our research participants shows that mobile phones are intimate interfaces that extend communicative reach, offer a sense of security and connection with friend and family networks, and are often used as a means of avoiding the intrusion of unwanted strangers. Navigational and safety apps are also deployed as a way of ameliorating against feelings of vulnerability and fear in the urban darkness.

The research will be published as a co-authored monograph entitled Mobile Media and the Urban Night (Palgrave, 2021).