Presenter Spotlight: Sunny Lee

SL Dr. Sun Kyong (Sunny) Lee (Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma) will be presenting part of a larger project at the upcoming ICA Mobile Pre-conference. Her paper, titled Bounded solidarity confirmed? How Korean immigrants’ mobile communication configures their social networks and intercultural development, explores how Korean immigrants’ use of mobile communication is associated with their social network.

We caught up with Sunny to discuss the research she will be presenting at the Mobile Preconference as well as her thoughts on the future of mobile research.

Can you summarize what your research is about and specifically what you’ll be presenting at the ICA Mobile Preconference?

My paper is a part of my doctoral dissertation that examined how social networks and personal communication technologies usage influenced Korean immigrants’ intercultural development. For the mobile pre-conference, I focused on analyzing the relationships between mobile communication (i.e., mobile phone calling and texting) and immigrants’ social network characteristics (i.e., size, diversity, and centrality). From my research, I found that depending who immigrants communicated with (e.g., strong vs. weak ties and coethnic vs. host national ties), the impact of mobile communication on social networks could vary.

What do you think the future of your own work will be? What about mobile communication research in general?

I’d like to publish my paper soon after getting some feedback from the conference, and do more research possibly with other types of samples. In a way, my research findings confirmed Dr. Ling’s notion of “bounded solidarity” about the impact of mobile communication tightening one’s social networks, but only partially because Korean immigrants’ mobile communication with host nationals seemed to be associated with larger and diverse social networks. In other words, my study highlighted the importance of communication partners when considering the impact of mobile communication.

Research on mobile communication grew steadily throughout the past ten years or so both nationally and internationally as the history of mobile pre-conference demonstrated (started from 2002 ICA in Korea I believe; for my first mater’s thesis on generational and lifestyles differences among mobile phone users of Korea, I was reading and citing the pre-conference proceeding!). The sheer diversity of research topics, theoretical approaches and methodologies of mobile communication research is celebratory. As we have entered into our “teenage” period, the search for a coherent identity by various academic explorations will be continued, I expect. It is also amazing that we now have an academic journal (i.e., Mobile Media & Communication by Sage) dedicated to publishing great works in the area. Although it might take another decade or so for us to establish an academic discipline (or for many, that might not even be a goal as we’re inherently multi- and interdisciplinary under the big umbrella of “communication”), I personally believe mobile communication scholars will keep producing quality research that provides insights on various phenomena related to mobile media and human communication.

What is it about the ICA Mobile Preconference that you are most looking forward to?

This will be my third presentation at the mobile pre-conference and I’ve enjoyed greatly participating in the conference every time. I like the open and encouraging atmosphere of the mobile pre-conference and the size of the conference being small enough to get to know people who’re studying similar issues/topics of mine. It’s great to meet those scholars whose work I am reading and citing a lot during this conference and be able to get feedback on my work from them as well. I look forward to meeting them again through this upcoming conference in Seattle, and also catching up with my collaborators who’re based in Germany, but also regular attendees of the pre-conference.

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