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New publication on attention in video chat

13 May 2021

Laptop showing video chat in progress
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Dorottya Cserző completed her doctoral research on video chat practices in 2019. She has published findings in the form of two book chapters (2016, 2020) and now a journal article in Multimodal Communication.

The article is based on data from the pre-COVID-19 era, but reflects on the recent changes on video chat habits. The analysis examines what it means to ‘pay attention’ when we communicate through video chat, and how this compares to other modes of communication. Dorottya says:

"This paper examines the use of video chat (VC) with a focus on expectations and construction of attention. It is based on micro analyses of recorded VC sessions (gathered between 2013 and 2015) and thematic analysis of 29 semi-structured interviews about VC practices (conducted in 2014 and 2015).

Building on multimodal (inter)action analysis and key concepts from nexus analysis, I examine how focused attention is constructed in VCs and how these practices are shaped by experiences with other forms of communication. I demonstrate that unlike other forms of distance communication, typical VC encounters require a full investment of attention. This can be formulated as an interactional maxim: focus your attention on the VC interaction.

I discuss how other activities can be interwoven with a VC and examine the exceptional practice of lapsed VC encounters (previously open connections or always-on video). I argue that participants display an orientation towards the maxim when pursuing other courses of action, and that lapsed encounters operate under a different value system than typical focused VC encounters.

Finally, I reason that VC is reserved for close relationships because of the required investment of attention."

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