Media Use in Digital Everyday Life

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Table of contents

(9 chapters)

This chapter presents the research questions, approaches, and arguments of the book, asking how our everyday lives with media have changed after the smartphone. I introduce the topic of media use in everyday life as an empirical, methodological, and theoretical research interest, and argue for its continued centrality to our digital society today, accentuated by datafication. I discuss how the analytical concepts of media repertories and public connection can inform research into media use in everyday life, and what it means that our societies and user practices are becoming more digital. The main argument of the book is that digital media transform our navigation across the domains of everyday life by blurring boundaries, intensifying dilemmas, and affecting our sense of connection to communities and people around us. The chapter concludes by presenting the structure of the rest of the book, where these arguments will be substantiated in analysis of media use an ordinary day, media use in life phase transitions, and media use when ordinary life is disrupted.


This chapter focuses on how the idea of ‘an ordinary day in the life’ can serve as an entry point for understanding media use. I discuss how everyday media use can be conceptualized as mundane and meaningful, and as most easily noticed when changing. Building on day-in-the-life interview segments from qualitative studies, I discuss methodological merits and challenges of this approach. The analysis follows media users an ordinary day from morning to night, as they wake up with the smartphone, navigate across social domains, and seek connection and companionship. I argue that seemingly mundane media use practices are made meaningful through the connection they entail, and particularly discuss the conflicted position of smartphone checking in everyday life. The chapter empirically substantiates the arguments made in Chapter 1 about the centrality of smartphones in digital everyday lives.


This chapter discusses how media use changes when everyday life undergoes change, focusing on major life transitions. I briefly introduce different perspectives on evolving media repertoires across the life course, and argue for the relevance of studying periods of destabilization and reorientation, when elements of media repertoires and modes of public connection are temporarily or more permanently transformed. I argue that easily adaptable media technologies such as smartphones tend to become more important in unsettled circumstances, as easy-to-reach for tools for new forms of self-expression, information-seeking or social contact, in accordance with shifting social roles and everyday circumstances. The primary empirical material analyzed in the chapter is a small qualitative interview study with mothers, about their media use the first year with a new-born.


This chapter analyzes what happens to media use when everyday life is suddenly disrupted, focusing on how the COVID-19 pandemic transformed work, socializing, communication and everyday living. The empirical case is changing media use in Norway during the pandemic, building on a qualitative questionnaire survey conducted in early lockdown, and follow-up interviews eight months later. Expanding on the ideas of destabilization of media repertoires developed in the former chapter, this analysis discusses transforming media repertoires as more digital, as less mobile (but still smartphone-centric) and as essentially social. The chapter further explains new concepts for pandemic media use practices, such as doomscrolling and Zoom fatigue.


This conclusion summarizes key insights from the former chapters, and highlights political dimensions of media use in digital everyday life. I particularly underline how our more digital everyday lives intensify communicative dilemmas, in which individuals in everyday settings negotiate with societal norms and power structures through their uses of media technologies. I also discuss how everyday media use connects us to different societal spheres and issues, also pointing to global challenges such as the pandemic and the climate crisis, arguing that everyday media use is key to our understandings of society. I discuss how to analyze this in media use research, emphasizing attention to processes of change and disruption.

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