Shogo Tanaka

TOKAI University

Intercorporeality In Online Conversations


Mark James

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

Do Digital Hugs Work? Re-embodying our Social Lives Online with Digital Tact

The COVID-19 pandemic led to social restrictions that often prevented us from hugging the ones we love. This absence helped some realise just how important these interactions are to our sense of connection. Many turned to digitally mediated social interactions to address these absences, but often unsatisfactorily. Some theorists might blame this on the disembodied character of our digital spaces, e.g., that interpersonal touch is excluded from our lives online. However, others continued to find a sense of connection in their digitally mediated interactions despite not being able to touch. Inspired by such contrasting cases, we ask if ‘digital hugs’ can work? We use the Mixed Reality Interaction Matrix to examine hugging as a social practice. This leads us to several claims about the nature of our embodied social interactions and their digital mediation: 1) all social interaction is mediated; 2) all virtual experiences are embodied; 3) technology has become richer and more supportive of embodiment; and 4) expertise is highly relevant to the quality of interactions we have online. Taken together, these claims support the idea that quality social connections online result largely from the skilful resourcing of multiple mediating components across various interaction dimensions, what we term digital tact. Ultimately, this understanding can support sound designs for our increasingly entangled online-offline social spaces. Can digital hugs work? We make the case that they can. Kind of.

Kathryn Body

University of Bristol

The Pandemic Body: the lived body during the COVID-19 pandemic

In this study, we conduct a detailed analysis of qualitative survey data focusing on adult populations in the UK, Japan, and Mexico to address the following question: How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed people’s lived experience of their bodies, other people’s bodies, and the world? We identify five themes: (i) fear and danger, (ii) bodily doubt and hypervigilance, (iii) risk and trust, (iv) adapting and enduring, and (v) changes in perspective. We use two theoretical frameworks: first, Mary Douglas’ (1966, 1970, 1992) anthropological work on purity, risk, danger, and symbolism is applied to understand how social and cultural meanings attached to the body have changed during the pandemic. Second, we use the concept of bodily doubt developed by Havi Carel (2007, 2013, 2016) to interpret how people experience their bodies and other people’s bodies differently during the pandemic. Whilst we recognise the significant variation in people’s embodied experience of the pandemic, our findings suggest there are commonalities that span different countries and cultures. Specifically, we look at responses to COVID-19 protective countermeasures such as national lockdowns and social distancing which we suggest have reduced people’s ability to put faith in their own bodies, trust other people, and trust the political leadership. We conclude by proposing that the changes to our lived experience during the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted changes in perspective and a renewed focus on what people consider important in life from a social, moral, cultural, and political point of view.  

Masami Yamaguchi

Chuo University

Mask Wearing Champion of Japan

COVID-19, however, has modified numerous aspects of our social environments.  Uncommon in the world, people in Japan have been wearing face masks for about 3 years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, most children, especially who were born after the COVID-19 pandemic, can only see the unmasked faces of very limited people, e.g., their immediate family members. These reductions and/or bias of face experience might affect the development of face processing.  I will discuss the effect of wearing face masks on face processing.

Simon Høffding

University of Southern Denmark

Musicking in the time of covid - an overview

Musicking is a term coined by Christopher Small (1998) emphasizing that music is not first and foremost a product, but in all instantiations, a process requiring emotional, cognitive, and bodily engagement. We engage in musicking for a variety of reasons such as 1) regulating our emotions (Krueger 2010), 2) interacting with others and creating “empathic spaces” (Hansen, Høffding & Krueger 2022), and 3) becoming intensely absorbed.

The Covid pandemic with its social distancing measures greatly restrained the possibility of musicking in these ways. In this talk, I review three data-sets: a) the survey by Froese et al. of 1st person reports of living with Corona primarily from UK, Japan and Mexico; b) the “MusiCovid” project initiated by Hansen, Wald-Fuhrmann and others resulting in dozens of papers published in Frontiers in Psychology on “The Role of Music During the COVID-19 Pandemic”; c) movement and questionnaire data from the “MusicLab Copenhagen” project organized by the “RITMO center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythms, Time, and Motion” at the University of Oslo and the Danish String Quartet, in which we, among other things, sought to understand the differences in enjoyment and absorption between attending a concert in person vs. virtually.

Tentatively, the three data-sets can be interpreted to show that even if musicking was often a source of consolation during the pandemic, this was probably mostly due to its emotion regulating properties. For instance, after the pandemic, the use of virtual concerts seems to have dropped significantly which is probably due to their inability to fulfill other central purposes of musicking such as interacting and becoming intensely absorbed.

Katsunori Miyahara

Hokkaido University, Centre for Human Nature, Artificial Intelligence, and Neuroscience

The Zoom-mediated life in social distancing

For many people, personal life during the COVID-19 pandemic involved regular use of video conferencing technologies, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Discord Video Calls. How have these technologies affected us over the years? Several recent studies have explored the effects of these technologies on social interaction (Aagaard 2022; Bailenson 2022; Øsler & Zahavi 2022; see also Tanaka’s pre-recorded talk) and have produced various important insights in this regard. However, I argue that the effects of video conferencing technologies on our personal lives during the pandemic are not confined to this specific domain. Rather, they have affected our daily course of life more widely. To show this, I will first introduce Peter Paul Verbeek’s account of technological mediation (Verbeek 2005, 2011). Then I will apply it to the case of video conferencing technologies, especially Zoom, and consider how they mediated our lives in social distancing. Zoom is designed to enable us to carry out effective collaborations regardless of our spatial constraints. However, its design features have affected our hermeneutic and pragmatic relationship with the world in ways that go beyond this intended effect.

Matthew Ratcliffe

University of York

Grief and Loss during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this talk, I will reflect upon experiences of grief during the COVID-19 pandemic, by drawing on first-person accounts obtained via the Pandemic Experience Survey (Froese et al, 2021). First of all, I will address the ways in which social restrictions disrupted interpersonal relations and social activities that more usually shape and regulate the course of grief over time. Then, I will consider how grief over the death of a person might be affected by a wider-ranging sense of loss, disorientation, strangeness, and unfamiliarity.