WP140 Conviviality and phatic communication?



Low-key everyday ?conviviality? is quite often invoked as a vital source of social cohesion in superdiverse urban environments, while claims about the democratic potential of social media are confronted by the argument that much of the traffic is ?phatic?, more about staying in touch than communicating information. Both issues invite close sociolinguistic scrutiny, but how is the movement between fine-grained micro-analysis and sociological generalisation best managed, and how well do ?conviviality? and the ?phatic? actually travel?? This short paper offers some observations about multilayered investigation, identifies ?phatic? as a useful mid-level interpretive concept, and suggests that ?conviviality? fails as a generalisation about practice but works as the characterisation of particular local ideologies.? It ends by suggesting that in the contemporary period, accounts of urban conviviality and phatic social media communication should also engage with security surveillance, though in sociolinguistics, this has not yet received the attention it deserves.