LIVING WITH THE SMARTPHONE: RELIGIOUS MUSLIM FAMILIES IN ISRAEL PRACTICE MOBILITY AND PIETY
Keywords:smartphone, Muslim, families, religious practices, domestication
We explore practices and meanings involved in the adoption of the smartphone among religious Muslim families in Israel, analyzing interviews conducted with 25 families (91 members) that belong to an ethnic and national minority in the country. Our analysis suggests that the adoption of the smartphone involves a multilayered interpretive work. We focus on the family, asking how its members negotiate a medium that undermines traditional parental and religious authorities, while providing them with intense and renewed ways of practicing their familial ties and religious commitments. As against the backdrop of several mostly quantitative studies of Palestinian Arabs in Israel, we analyze our respondents’ discourse in order to outline the intricate relationships between mothers and fathers; between siblings; between parents and their children, and the children’s imagined peer group; and between the interviewees and their extended family. We complement this analysis with a focus on religion, describing a range of Muslim mobile apps that allow our interviewees to practice their religion, as well as widely used apps – mostly WhatsApp groups – which afford virtual gatherings for promoting charity, pilgrimage and Quran reading. The analysis highlights the particular tensions that are woven into our interviewees’ uses: they are concerned over their participation in social media, the authenticity of the texts they encounter, and their relationships with local and trans-local religious authorities. These questions are implicated in Muslim doctrines and in the predicament of Palestinian Arab families in Israel – and in the affordances of social media and online mobile phones.