Communicative Affordances of Mobile Media: Portability, Availability, Locatability, and Multimediality

Andrew Richard Schrock


Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets have been rapidly adopted worldwide. Mobile media are now the primary online connection for most individuals. Despite this rapid rise, theories of how mobile media relate to communication patterns and outcomes remain scarce. An affordances approach promises a high-level framework for researching how technologies such as mobile media are integrated into routines, affecting subsequent patterns of communication. In this article, I first consider the theoretical lineage of affordances and how this perspective demonstrates advantages from related theories. Second, I draw on affordances to define “communicative affordances,” a perspective that takes communication as a central concern. Finally, I synthesize literature from mobile communication to formulate a typology of communicative affordances of mobile media: portability, availability, locatability, and multimediality. Suggestions are then made for research employing a communicative affordances framework.


mobile communication, mobile media, affordances, materialities, computer-mediated communication

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