Mobile devices and their effect on the sociality on Dutch Intercity trains

Travelling by train is an activity that many people engage in on a daily basis, which is rarely performed alone. While trains are locations where many different strangers potentially encounter each other, they are also portrayed as non-social transient places of passenger conflict and disharmony. Especially the rapid rise of mobile devices has changed the way people interact on board. This mobile ethnography – based on observations, travel-diaries and diary-interviews with 16 frequent travellers of Dutch Intercity trains – contributes to earlier studies on passenger sociality by specifically focussing on how social interactions are influenced by these mobile devices. The findings illustrate that using a mobile phone is indeed the most reported on-board activity and direct interactions are limited. Nevertheless, people on the train speak a very subtle non-verbal language that enables them to interact without engaging in extensive direct interactions. Mobile devices are thus not just enabling or constraining but have become inherent parts of socialising. Furthermore, most people do watch out for each other and try not to bother others. Discomforts emerge from different interpretations and compliances of codes of conduct.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 380-396
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01744060
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 6 2020 3:01PM