Human sociality in the times of the Covid‐19 pandemic: A systematic examination of change in greetings

Mondada L., Bänninger ., Bouaouina S. A. , Camus L., Gauthier G., Hänggi P., ...More

Journal Of Sociolinguistics, vol.24, no.4, pp.441-468, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/josl.12433
  • Title of Journal : Journal Of Sociolinguistics
  • Page Numbers: pp.441-468


Using multimodal conversation analysis this article examines embodied and tactile greetings in social interaction, documenting their change during the Covid‐19 pandemic. Recognizing social interaction as foundational for human sociality, we consider greetings as a crucial normative, organizational, and ritual practice for mutually engaging in intersubjective action. Analyses use video recordings made in Switzerland (featuring (Swiss‐)German and English as a lingua‐franca), focusing on embodied greetings of acquainted people in public spaces at the age of Covid19—a historical moment in which physical proximity and contact are targeted by official measures restricting social interactions. Studying a range of tactile embodied greetings, the paper shows how they change from routine greetings to hesitated, suspended yet still completed ones, and to projected but resisted and refused ones. Furthermore, it reveals some ‘new’ practices of greeting (elbow/feetbumps, hugs‐in‐the‐air) and their non‐straightforward and accountable character, as well as how they sediment and normalize during the pandemic.