Touch in Social Interaction : Touch, Language, and Body book cover
1st Edition

Touch in Social Interaction
Touch, Language, and Body

ISBN 9781138541986
Published July 16, 2020 by Routledge
344 Pages 237 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Rooted in multimodal conversation analysis and based on video recordings of naturally occurring social interactions, this book presents a novel analytical perspective for the study of touch. The authors focus on how different forms of touch are interactionally organized in everyday, institutional, and professional practices, showing how touch is multimodally achieved in social interaction, how it acquires its significance, how it is embedded in the current activity and in its social context, and how it is systematically intertwined with talk, facial expressions, and body posture.

Including work by a wide range of renowned researchers, this volume provides rich visual illustrations of situations featuring touch as a social and intersubjective practice. The studies make a compelling contribution to the field by clearly examining and demonstrating the social meaning of touch for the participants in social interaction in a broad range of contexts.

Presenting a new methodology for the study of touch, this is key reading for all researchers and scholars working in conversation analysis, multimodality, and related areas.

Table of Contents

List of contributors

1. Towards an interactional approach to touch in social encounters

Asta Cekaite and Lorenza Mondada

2. The Interactive Construction of a Hug Sequence

Marjorie Harness Goodwin

3. The tactility and visibility of kissing: intercorporeal configurations of kissing bodies in family photography sessions

Lorenza Mondada, David Monteiro, and Burak S. Tekin

4. Touch as embodied compassion in responses to pain and distress

Asta Cekaite

5. Control touch in caregiver–child interaction: embodied organization in triadic mediation of peer conflict in Swedish and Japanese

Matthew Burdelski and Asta Cekaite

6. When a dance hold becomes illegitimate

Leelo Keevallik

7. To touch and to be touched: the coordination of touching-whole-body-movements in Aikido practice

Augustin Lefebvre

8. Touching and petting: exploring "haptic sociality" in interspecies interaction

Chloé Mondémé

9. Professional touch in speech and language therapy for the treatment of post-stroke aphasia

Sara Merlino

10. Guided touch: the sequential organization of feeling a fetus in Japanese midwifery practices

Aug Nishizaka

11. Passing touch: handing and handling tools and implements during surgical procedures

Christian Heath and Paul Luff

12. Calibrating professional perception through touch in geological fieldwork
Charles Goodwin and Michael Sean Smith

13. Sensorial explorations of food: How professionals and amateurs touch cheese in gourmet shops

Lorenza Mondada

14. Ambivalences of touch: an epilogue

Christian Meyer and Jürgen Streeck


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Asta Cekaite is a professor in Child Studies at Linköping University. Her research involves an interdisciplinary approach to language, culture, and social interaction. Specific foci include social perspectives on embodiment, touch, emotion, and moral socialization. Empirical fields cover adult–child and children’s peer group interactions in educational settings, and family. With M. Goodwin, she has co-authored Embodied Family Choreography: Practices of Control, Care and Mundane Creativity (2018).

Lorenza Mondada is a professor of Linguistics at the University of Basel. Her research deals with social interaction in ordinary, professional, and institutional settings, within an ethnomethodological and conversation analytic perspective (EMCA). Her focus is on video analysis and multimodality, integrating language, and embodiment in the study of human action. Currently she works on how interactants engage not only in coordinating their joint actions in publicly accountable manners, but also in sensing the material world together – within an EMCA perspective on sensoriality in interaction.


"The blossoming research on multimodal interaction has mainly focused on gaze and gesture. This book is the first to explore the richness of uses of a hitherto neglected bodily resource: touch. It reveals the fundamental role that haptic practices play both for emotional exchanges and professional action in contemporary societies."

Arnulf Deppermann, Leibniz-Institute for the German Language, Germany


"The primary value of this volume is in the way it compels us as researchers to contend with how we study, represent, examine, and conceptualize touching practices beyond simply glossing that a touch occurred. Touch is probably one of the least-researched of practices in the wake of the interactional turn toward embodied conduct; and yet right now, touch (and its absence) is experiencing an unparalleled moment of salience for an entire generation."

Jessica S. Robles, Symbolic Interaction (2020)


"This book makes a compelling contribution to the field by clearly examining the social meaning of interactional  touch in a broad range of contexts and allowing fair and truthful representations of multiple viewpoints from scholars with different  backgrounds. The original  findings and analytical frameworks developed  in this volume would serve as an excellent  reference to support, benefit and inspire future research in relevant fields. Given its innovative and rich contents, the book would be particularly appealing to researchers and scholars working in conversation analysis, multimodality, cultural studies, sociopragmatics, cognitive linguistics and related areas."

Fang Chen, Journal of Pragmatics 169 (2020)