Dispositions of dis/trust: Fourth-wave mobile communication for a world in flux

Arul Chib*, Ming Wei Ang

*Corresponding author for this work

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Mobile scholarship has highlighted the embeddedness of mobile media practices within power hierarchies and sociostructural conditions. We enrich the critical approach by examining how trust, as a future-oriented disposition that deals with uncertainty and social vulnerability, conditions mobile practices and vice versa. We interviewed 29 Syrian refugees residing in the Netherlands, examining how different levels of vulnerability and uncertainty in refugees’ experiences shape mobile use and non-use. We found that low vulnerability–low uncertainty situations were associated with habitual, everyday use; low vulnerability–high uncertainty corresponded to anxiety-expunging non-use; high vulnerability–low uncertainty influenced harm-mitigating mobile practices that sometimes acquiesced to hierarchies; and high vulnerability–high uncertainty circumstances incited radical forms of dependence and collaboration between mobile users. We posit that this framework is not limited to refugee contexts, but mobile-mediated relationships in general. We underscore the importance of mobile scholarship in understanding and offering solutions to contemporary global crises of distrust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-794
Number of pages19
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number4
Early online date17 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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© The Author(s) 2023.


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