Sociality and embodiment: online communication during and after Covid-19

Foundations of Science 28 (4):1125-1142 (2023)
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During the Covid-19 pandemic we increasingly turned to technology to stay in touch with our family, friends, and colleagues. Even as lockdowns and restrictions ease many are encouraging us to embrace the replacement of face-to-face encounters with technologically mediated ones. Yet, as philosophers of technology have highlighted, technology can transform the situations we find ourselves in. Drawing insights from the phenomenology of sociality, we consider how digitally-enabled forms of communication and sociality impact our experience of one another. In particular, we draw attention to the way in which our embodied experience of one another is altered when we meet in digital spaces, taking as our focus the themes of perceptual access, intercorporeality, shared space, transitional spaces, and self-presentation. In light of the way in which technological mediation alters various dimensions of our social encounters, we argue that digital encounters constitute their own forms of sociality requiring their own phenomenological analysis. We conclude our paper by raising some broader concerns about the very framework of thinking about digitally and non-digitally mediated social encounters simply in terms of replacement.

Author Profiles

Dan Zahavi
University of Copenhagen
Lucy Osler
Cardiff University


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