Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Sandra Pensoneau-Conway


This longitudinal ethnographically-oriented study explores the meanings of cellphones and cellphone communication of first-year college students during their college transition and how such newly populated human communicative conducts affect their sense of self and identity during this life period. The findings from this study suggest that participants' perceptions about appropriate cellphone communication are closely tied with a growing sense of emerging adulthood that college students develop in conjunction with their college transition. Cellphone communication creates social situations where participants engage in identity exploration and strategic impression management by switching their social roles in order to properly present their self as a more independent, mature, and responsible member of a new community. Thus they continue to making efforts to become a functioning member of a collegiate culture. Participants in this study also handle varied degrees of relational dynamics by managing the vicinity of friendship and the vicinity of parenting in order to maintain their sense of functioning self during college transition. Corresponding to the lack of literature regarding cellphone communication in the American context, the current study contributes to the understanding of cellphone communication among young people. Also, the findings of this study contribute to the theoretical development of symbolic interactionism that has long explored the concepts of self and identity based predominantly upon face-to-face contexts.

Included in

Communication Commons