Discussion Papers

Ottmar L. Braun, Klaus Lange

Geschichten um das Telefon aus den neuen Bundesländern - Bürger diskutieren ihre Erfahrungen mit dem Telefon im privaten Alltag

Nr. 113 / Juli 1993 Summary One central result of the group discussions carried out with nine focus groups in the new German federal states in spring 1993 is that there was already a high degree of telephone socialization before the German reunification. In respect to the low telephone density in the former GDR, it could be expected that personal telephone experiences were not highly developed in the past. It is often ignored, however, that in large parts of the population telephone usage is elaborated by the private use of the telephone at the workplace and intensive telephone help in the neighbourhood. It has to be considered that there are great differences between municipal and rural segments of the population. Furthermore, telephone socialization depends on the education level and the type of work. The expectations regarding the telephone were so positive that the majority of the population applied for a telephone access without giving great thoughts on it or making a cost-benefit calculation. Not applying for a telephone can primarily be explained by information deficits or lacking prospect of a soon to be realized telephone access and the expectation of high costs. Negative effects (e.g. stress) accompanying the introduction of the telephone were attributed to more general processes of change caused by the reunification. The first days and weeks with the telephone were experienced euphorically by the new users: ("It's like ten years of Christmas on one day"). In this special situation of change, the telephone demonstrated its great usefulness for the intensification of relationships. Contrary to some expressed fears, the telephone does not lead to indifference but improves the quality of human relationships. It is increasingly used for the handling of everyday business. For a new section of users, it has rapidly become the universal organisation medium ("Generic aid for the private space"). In contrast to the quick elaboration of telephone use in municipal sections of the population, the telephone in rural regions is often regarded as an optional medium or a medium for a case of emergency and is used in a more restricted way. The citizens in the new federal states of Germany regard the telephone as a matter-of-fact of modern life. Nearly exclusively optimistic expectations are associated with the telephone in the year 2000. For the future, the citizens in the new Bundesländer expect personal mobile phones and video telephony at low costs. Only German language version available.

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