Using Discourse Analysis to Assess Social Co-Presence in the Video Conference Environment

Using Discourse Analysis to Assess Social Co-Presence in the Video Conference Environment

Kristy Beers Fägersten (Dalarna University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-863-0.ch009
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In this chapter, I analyze computer-mediated communication in the form of online, synchronous, professional discourse in the multimodal video conference environment with the aim of assessing social co-presence (Kang, Watt & Ala., 2008). I argue for the applicability of discourse analysis methodology by presenting extracts of video conference communication which illustrate how talk-in-interaction contributes to or threatens the three elements of social co-presence: co-presence, social richness of the medium, and interactant satisfaction. Examples of interaction illustrate how disruptions in mediation serve to threaten co-presence by isolating interlocutors, how multiple modes of communication are exploited to ground participants in a shared communicative environment thereby establishing social connectedness, and how multimodal communication allows for iconic or paralinguistic support of the discursive expression of emotional stance. The chapter concludes with feature recommendations for video conference software development from the perspective of social co-presence.
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Video-Mediated Communication

Video-mediated communication (VMC) such as video-conferencing offers users the widest variety of channels of communication, combining video with voice chat, text chat, whiteboard capabilities, and collaborative document manipulation. Video conferencing thus exemplifies a rich media environment (Daft & Lengel, 1984), allowing for a form of communication that closely approximates face-to-face interaction. For this reason, video-conferencing is increasingly being adopted in workplace settings as a viable solution to the problem of communicating with dispersed colleagues and business partners. The use of video-mediated communication technologies is therefore key to facilitating meaningful teamwork activity remotely (Morgan, 1993; Nguyen & Canny, 2007; Townsend et al., 1998).

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