In this piece, we shed light on the materiality of cell phones in the United States by comparing two cell phone repair shops in the Washington, DC metro region, and analyze the different ways in which these repair shops confront customers with the material realities of cell phones through variable yet systematic narratives and practices of repair. We argue that cell phone repair shops provide a distinctive site in which to unpack various articulations of the commodity fetishism of cell phones, the craft of repair, and thus the distinctive materiality of these now essential technological devices. By focusing on the tools and the techniques for their use, this ethnographic account highlights the ways in which repair, as an embodied practice, variously reveals, conceals, and constructs the value and agency of cell phones in the context of an emerging post-Fordist economy


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pp. 603-633
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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