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date: 25 September 2022

The Body in Social Interactionlocked

The Body in Social Interactionlocked

  • Leelo KeevallikLeelo KeevallikDepartment of Culture and Society (IKOS), Linköping University

Summary

Communicative action can be carried out by not only verbal but also embodied means. People regularly use multimodal resources to make sense for each other. Consider a mundane activity, such as a greeting. In addition to the choice of lexical items to fit the relationship, such as “hi,” “yo,” or “good morning, Mister Smith,” extreme prosody featuring high pitch, increased loudness, and extensive lengthening on a “hi” may be necessary for your friend to feel recognized and truly appreciated. In some contexts and relationships, a handshake, a bow, or a hug may be mandatory, while the appropriate duration of those behaviors, the adequate spatial distance, and the exact positions of touch are culturally significant. Across activity settings, bodily behavior is regularly treated as meaningful by coparticipants, as it plays a role in action formation alongside the use of lexicon and grammar. Qualitatively different semiotic resources are juxtaposed so that they mutually elaborate each other and constitute actions within the locally emerging interactional sequences, as understood by the current participants. Aspects such as gaze, gesture, posture, objects, and movement are all potentially recruited to achieve social action, depending on the praxeological context. It is, for example, crucial to pay attention to a specific area in the surrounding space when someone does a pointing gesture or to adjust one’s pace when interacting on the go. We are held socially accountable for our embodied behavior, be it designed for others or not, and the body is constantly interpreted in regard to its action import. Social actions can furthermore be exclusively carried out by the bodies within their spatial, material, and praxeological settings.

Subjects

  • Communication Theory

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