Breathing life into social presence: the case of texting between friends

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Whilst many studies focus on human-to-media interactions, this paper turns to how a multimodal medium influences
human-to-human contact. By bringing together both radical embodied cognitive science (Chemero 2009) and dialogism (Linell 2009), the paper develops an anti-representationalist approach to the concept of social presence. We use an exploratory study of close friendships that maintain their interaction through the use of the mobile instant messaging service WhatsApp. In so doing, we describe texting as language-activity where people engage with each other by using resources from body, environment, and brain. Our work represents a major departure from previous studies of mobile interaction in adopting an embodied view of language and cognition. By so doing, we show how parties create anticipatory routines that enable them to ‘hear’ and ‘see’ their interlocutor. The paper’s main contribution is to draw attention to this kind of heightened social presence that we choose to call “co-imagining”.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPragmatics and Society
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)274 –296
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Co-imagining
  • Dialogism
  • Distributed language
  • Interworld
  • Mobile communication
  • Radical embodied cognitive science
  • Social presence
  • Texting

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