Yumei Gan, who is a PhD candidate at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, will give a guest talk to the lab.
Orchestrating openings: the first five seconds in video calls between migrant parents and their young children
Openings have been extensively studied in interactional studies, for example, in telephone conversation (Schegloff, 1968) or face-to-face encounters (e.g., Pillet-Shore, 2012). Recently, studies have investigated openings in video-mediated communication (VMC), for example, video conferences in a work setting (Mondada, 2010) and video calls between family members and friends (Licoppe & Morel, 2012; Licoppe, 2017). In this paper, we focus on openings in video calls involving young children.
Our data are drawn from habitual video calls between Chinese migrant workers (who have moved to the cities) and their ‘left-behind’ children (who are left behind to live with their grandparents in rural areas). Data consists of both a screen capture of their mobile phone and a traditional camera recording of the interaction in front of the mobile phone.
Since the children in our study are very young (less than 3 years), the video calls involved at least three participants, the children are often accompanied by one co-present caregiver (typically a grandparent). However, these caregivers almost always immediately attempt to establish parent-child participation framework by getting the child into the visual frame and prompting the child to interact with the remote parent. Thus while the children do not initiate these calls, they are very much the focus of these calls.
In this paper, we investigate how openings are ‘orchestrated’ to achieve parent-child interaction in video calls, and what technical challenges that people encounter in orchestrating openings. We focus on three aspects. Firstly, the ‘pre-opening’ phase, where grandparents prepare the child for the upcoming video calls. Secondly, the camera work upon connection, for example, how do grandparents manipulate the camera framing area to film children, in order to establish a ‘talking head’ configuration between remote parent and copresent child. Thirdly, the generation of a greeting, where parents and grandparents collaborate for the child to produce a greeting or return greeting. Finally, we discuss the technical limitations in the design of video-mediated technology for conducting the three-party interaction.
Licoppe, C., & Morel, J. (2012). Video-in-interaction: ‘Talking heads’ and the multimodal organization of mobile and Skype video calls. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 45(4), 399-429.
Licoppe, C. (2017). Skype appearances, multiple greetings and ‘coucou’. Pragmatics. 27(3), 351-386.
Pillet-Shore, D. (2012). Greeting: displaying stance through prosodic recipient design. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 45(4), 375-398.
I am a third-year PhD student in Sociology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and am currently visiting the University of York for six months from January to June 2019. My main research interest is to study the interplay between technology and interaction. I am interested in studying this within the perspective of ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, and video analysis.