Phatic 2016 (pt. 1)

A year ago I set up a Google Scholar Alert for "phatic" in order to keep a more watchful eye on new publications that use the technical term. This post contains some of the single-excerpt entries in my ever-expanding collection. Some papers I'll have to read in full, because they add something interesting to phatic theory, or apply the concept on novel material, but most of these here use the term in passing and in an already established sense. Nevertheless, I believe that nearly every instance of its usage can add something to my knowledge, and can be used to map the conceptual field.

If you found this post by googling your own name, and found an excerpt of your writing here, you are welcome to contact me if you want it retracted or something added. I apologize for taking liberties without reading your work in full, but my interest in this technical term alone should justify it. Effectively, it is a florilegium, a compilation of excerpts from other writings, a bouquet of flowers in the form of a text.

To peruse each petal individually, see here.

Appiah-Kubi, Kwamena and Duncan Rowland 2016. PEER Support In MOOCs: The Role Of Social Presence. L@S '16 Proceedings of the Third (2016) ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK - April 25-26, 2016. New York: ACM, 237-240.

Social sharing, an indicator which captures interactions such as commemorating a colleagues' birthday or other such life events was hardly expressed in the dataset under investigation. If "Continuing a thread" which is the act of reply to a post was eliminated, "Asking questions" comes out on top as the most used indicator by frequency, followed by "Phatic, Salutations and Greetings" and "Expressing Agreement". "Self-disclosure", which categorizes personal details given by posters usually to add extra context when asking questions or replying to another learner's post, features prominently within the "Affective" indicators category. Taken together, this may highlight these interactions as utilitarian oriented rather than community building. (Appiah-Kubi & Rowland 2016: 239)
These kinds of classificatory discourse studies more often than not take an extremely reductionistic view of phaticity. Here it is reduced to greetings and salutations, while Malinowski's original essay offers greeting as a preliminary illustration of phatic communion. Even more so, I believe Malinowski mentioned greetings, in passing, just to discuss the lapse of referential function, pointed out by Ogden and Richards. In my opinion, Malinowski's point was that greetings are like phatic communion (in the semantic aspect), not that greetings are phatic communion. This was a reduction introduced by Roman Jakobson, who didn't read Malinowski's essay, and instead relied on Alan Gardiner's work, where it was merely reviewed, and described "from a shifted angle" as an exchange where sentences "seem to follow one another like the mechanical utterances of automata" (Gardiner 1932: 45-46). This reduction consequently lead to the "phatic markers" in pragma-linguistics, which actually are somewhat "mechanical" (i.e. concerning the flow of speech, turn-taking, etc.). For metatheoretical purposes I designate this reduced understanding of phaticity as hypo-phatic. The opposite species of studies, which enlarge the meaning of phaticity by negating some of Malinowski's negations (most often, that phatic communion is not emotional communication), I designate as hyper-phatic. By and large the hypo- and hyperphatic poles correspond to linguistic and anthropological literature. It seems to make sense that linguists use it as a speech category, and that anthropologists should expand it in a variety of directions, most having a tangential connection with speech, nullifying the etymology of phatic. For purposes of illustration, I'd like to go over the categories in this excerpt.
  1. "Social sharing" is the whole point of phatic communion. Achieving a sense of community through casual conversation is "the first act", as Malinowski says, consummated "by the breaking of bread and the communion of food" (PC 4.5).
  2. "Commemorating a colleague's birthday or other such life events" falls under phatic communion because it's an extension of the "personal accounts of the speaker's views and life history" (PC 5.4).
  3. Even "continuing a thread" is included, if one considers the implications of the quoted need "to say something even when there is hardly anything to say" (PC 9.2).
  4. "Salutations and Greetings" are covered by Malinowski's "formulae of greeting or approach" (PC 2.4).
  5. "Expressing agreement" is especially interesting, because it is treated as an aspect of phaticity very rarely in the ensuing literature. Malinowski was pretty adamant that in phatic communion there is "Always the same emphasis on affirmation and consent", defied only by "incidental disagreement" (PC 5.3).
  6. "Self-disclosure" is covered by the "personal accounts of the speaker's views and life history" (PC 5.4).
  7. And "affective" is problematic, since (as I'm about to discuss in an upcoming paper) phatic communion binds people "by a tie of some social sentiment or other" (PC 7.8) and yet it does not "serve the purpose of establishing a common sentiment" (PC 2.3). So it really boils down to how one understands "sentiment", and I'm still on my way towards elucidating its meaning in late 19th Century moral philosophy.
Note that PC here refers to Malinowski's three pages about phatic communion, from "The case of language used in free, aimless, social intercourse" (PC 1.1) up to "a pleasant atmosphere of polite, social intercourse" (PC 9.4), first number denoting paragraph and the second denoting sentence.

Blackford, Russell 2016. The Mystery of Moral Authority. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

To take this a step further, much of the moral language used in everyday conversation may, indeed, consist mainly or entirely of expressions of feelings (along with invitations to others to share those feelings). For example, imagine that Abigail and Belinda are watching television and a news story comes on describing some shocking crime. In response, Abigail shouts: "That's appalling!" Here, she may be expressing that she feels appalled - and inviting Belinda to feel the same way - rather than attributing to the crime an objective property of appallingness. Belinda might reply with expression or gestures of agreement, but this seems more like phatic communication than anything else (in essence, it is a form of social bonding). (Blackford 2016: 19)
This is what I think was exactly the contention between Herbert Spencer and Bronislaw Malinowski. Spencer said, "There can be no sympathy, nor any of the [moral] sentiments which sympathy generates, unless there are fellow-beings around" (Spencer 1876: 19). While this is reasonable enough, it does set sympathy and sentiments in a sort of causal chain, so that the presence of fellow-beings becomes a factor that controls impulsiveness, and consequently fosters social progress and the social state. Malinowski on the other hand wrote that free, aimless, social intercourse does not serve "the purpose of establishing a common sentiment", since even where it purports (appears falsely) to exist, such as in expressions of sympathy (pity? condolence?), "it is avowedly spurious on one side" (PC 2.3). Notice that "spurious" is synonymous with "purport", both implying that something pretends to be valid but is actually false. Likewise, when Blackford draws a connection between morality and phatic communion, it purports to be original, while in actuality the moral aspect was already there in the inception, just undiscovered or ignored. Even presently I have not gone farther than Spencer to trace this line. I'm working myself up to reading the likes of George Grote's Fragments on Ethical Subjects (1876), and others. In the reasoning given here, that it may consist "mainly or entirely of expressions of feelings" is the La Barrean hypothesis (which I'll have to treat somewhere below), and somewhat specious. In any case, when Abigail and Belinda express their feelings about some shocking event, is it not spuriously one-sided? Abigail may be expressing this feeling in order to invite Belinda to feel the same way, but there's no guarantee that Belinda actually feels the same way (maybe she has other ideas about what crimes are shocking, or how shocking a crime has to be to become appalling). Thus, indeed, the whole exercise becomes phatic - someone saying something when they feel like someone should say something. Still, I really like the fact that Blackford managed to interrelate the emotive function ("emotive" was picked up from Anton Marty by Jakobson exactly because it has an element of inviting the other to be moved by the same emotion, as opposed to "expressive" or "emotional" which lack this element) with the opposing pole, which is the most varied - conative, appellative, directive, etc. - but essentially boils down to doing (as opposed to the feeling in the emotive function and thinking in the referential function). The most succinct treatment on this I've seen is by C. S. Wake, who opposes Feeling (Esthetics) to Will (Ethics). In Wake's Diagram XVI, I would replace with the "subliminal" with "social", in order to diagram the sociability of feeling as well as the sociability of will. The latter is so rare in phatic discourse that I can only get it from E. R. Clay's The Alternative (1882).

Fuentes-Rodríguez, Catalina; María Elena Placencia and María Palma-Fahey 2016. Regional pragmatic variation in the use of the discourse marker pues in informal talk among university students in Quito (Ecuador), Santiago (Chile) and Seville (Spain). Journal of Pragmatics 97: 74-92.

Pues is a polyfunctional form, as will be seen, equivalent to the English well in some contexts (cf. Serrano Montesino, 2001); as a phatic token, equivalent to uh, and as a closing device as in ya pues, equivalent to the English 'okay then', etc. (Fuentes-Rodríguez, Placencia & Palma-Fahey 2016: 74)
The most hypo-phatic treatments reduce phaticity to meaningless linguistic phenomena. When Malinowski asked, "Are words in Phatic Communion used primarily to convey meaning, the meaning which is symbolically theirs?" (PC 6.3) and answered immediately in the negative, he meant (as was explained in the following sentence about the role of intellectual reflection, or rather the lack thereof) that when people engage in phatic communion, they're not really focused on the meaning of what is said. When someone starts a conversation about weather, their weekend, or children, you know that you're not in for some "deeper meaning". That is not to say that the conversation lacks any and all signification, merely that it is not significant (Charles Morris made a big issue out of "meaning" lacking this distinction). Somehow, a lot of people have taken hold of this statement about meaning, payed no attention to the word "symbolically" (which is treated extensively by Ogden and Richards in the rest of the book), and have taken "phatic" as a synonym of "meaningless". So, by and by, when linguists started looking for the phatic subcode of language, to which Jakobson's phatic function must accord, they found "uh", "hmm", "yeah", and other such linguistic tokens with no discernible meaning. "Well" is especially symptomatic of this reduction, because it's the exact word repeated so much in the Dorothy Parker quote in Jakobson's original definition of the phatic function. But notice that Jakobson doesn't specify any further illustrations, nor does he give a thought-out definition of the phatic function as he does for the poetic function. In fact, after defining the phatic function, he says damn near nothing about it ever again! So it's no wonder that subsequent linguists took the most simplistic illustration ("well") and ran with it. Personally, I don't even see the point of studying "phatic tokens" - can you learn anything significant if you study the most insignificant part of spoken language?
Additionally, pues and its variants were found to occur as continuers or phatic tokens in turn/act medial position across varieties. All in all, the use of pues with its interactive value in the introduction of responses stands out in Seville, while the supportive function of pues predominates in Quito and Santiago. (Fuentes-Rodríguez, Placencia & Palma-Fahey 2016: 90)
Still, I appreciate how far this classificatory system has developed. Ever since Laver's (1975) elaboration - which did not equate the phatic function with phatic communion, but instead delineated a variety of functions of phatic communion, such as the propitiative, exploratory, etc. - I've noticed several authors delineate even further functions. The supportive function would be one I'd like to see elaborated. Malinowski said that there's "Always the same emphasis on affirmation and consent" (PC 5.3), but I have yet to see anyone study if this is really so, if we really do agree more than disagree, or support rather than contend, (with) our casual conversation partners. Even more so, I would like to see Laver's preliminary functions of phatic communion elaborated further, particularly with regard to all the computer-mediated-communication literature that employ phaticity.

Kecskés, István 2016. Bilingual Pragmatic Competence. In: Reif, Monika and Justyna A. Robinson (eds.), Cognitive Perspectives on Bilingualism. Boston; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 39-64.

Malinowski (1923: 476) defined phatic communication as "[...] language used in free, aimless, social intercourse". It is small talk, a non-referential use of language to share feelings and sympathy, or to establish social rapport rather than to communicate information. Phatic communication is characterized by the use of routinized and ritualized formulas, mainly situation-bound utterances. This term refers to all kinds of acts including greetings, welcomes, questions about work, health, well-being, family and other aspects of life, leave-taking, wish-wells, farewells, compliments about obvious achievements or personal traits of the interlocutors, complaints about things or events with which they are familiar, or those narrations or chit-chat about trivial facts or comments about topics that may seem obvious (Malinowski 1923: 476-479). Why is small talk important for bilingual pragmatic competence? Because it is part of what we referred to as preferred ways of saying things and preferred ways of organizing thoughts in a language. Bilinguals have two sets of small talk, one for each of their languages. However, as we discussed earlier, a bilingual might be more comfortable with the norms and conventions of one of his/her language than those of the other. Mugford (2011) has shown that his Mexican learners of English transferred local norms and practices and did not adhere to those of the L2 when engaging in phatic exchanges. For instance, unaware of the role of status and distance in the target community, on some occasions Mexican learners made overly personal comments to their instructors, as if assuming they were talking to very close subjects. On other occasions, their small talk displayed local practices, such as lack of expected greetings when entering classrooms, very extended greetings with a profusion of self-disclosure, or the transfer of L1 idiomatic phatic expressions, for example 'fresh as a salad' instead of 'fresh as a daisy' as a reply to a how-are-you question. As effective management of small talk in any language requires an awareness of subtle issues such as when and with whom to engage in it, the underlying reasons and purposes for doing so, the topics that can be addressed, or the effects achieved by means of it. (Kecskés 2016: 57)
This one is truly impressive, for Kecskés has caught some interesting aspects of Malinowski's phatic communion. It's a rare sight on the whole, as very few people discussing phaticity today bother to read Malinowski (or to read him thoroughly). Now, when small talk is described as language used "to share feelings and sympathy", we're once again treading the feelings-sentiments-sympathy complication. In short order it is this: Malinowski negates the communicative function ("not in order to inform"), the practical function ("not [...] to connect people in action"), and the cognitive function ("certainly not in order to express any thought") (PC 2.2), but when it comes to feeling, the word itself appears exactly once, in that "the situation [...] is created [...] by the specific feelings which form convivial gregariousness" (PC 7.6). I cannot say what those feelings are. At best, I can hang on to his word "fellowship" and note that Spencer had the phrase "the desire for the presence of fellow-men". So, it seems probable that the specific feelings Malinowski had in mind were the social sentiments "dependent upon and associated with the fundamental tendency which makes the mere presence of others a necessity for man" (PC 3.3). That is to say, it is impossible to say what those feelings are, except that they necessitate the presence of of other people, and perhaps condition that necessity. It looks to me that the social sentiments Malinowski (and Spencer) had in mind were not feelings as we understand them today (i.e. emotions), but feelings tied with the opposing pole (ethics, will, volition). In Spencer, this is exemplified by "the desire to accumulate property", in Malinowski it has divised into "ambition, vanity, passion for power and wealth" (PC 3.3). In the end, I cannot but think that small talk is not exactly the language used to share feelings. As Malinowski points out, one may be very keen on sharing feelings, but the other may listen on with disinterest, waiting for his or her own turn to "share feelings". As to the "mainly situation-bound utterances", the whole of PC 7 is about this, attempting to answer "in what relation does [phatic communion] stand to our crucial conception of context of situation?" (PC 7.2). He calls it "crucial" because the context of situation is his main theme in the essay. As far as I can make out, there appears a slight contradiction when it comes to the situational boundedness of phatic communion. On the one hand, he says that "it is obvious that the outer situation does not enter directly into the technique of speaking" (PC 7.3), meaning that the talk is not focused on what is going on at the moment. On the other hand, to take hold of the "directly" in that construction, since it does enter into it indirectly. When the crew of a ship talks about bad weather or a company of soldiers in action, it is clear that the situation does influence it. The contradiction arises out of the statement, "The whole situation consists in what happens linguistically" (PC 7.7), which goes to point out that even when we engage in phatic communion at the bus stop or in a waiting room, it doesn't really go all that well when we're discussing only things we can see or hear in the immediate vicinity. Rather, good small talk is about news, opinions, tid-bits of information which are shared not in order to inform or educate the other but only for the sake of conversation, for the pleasure of talking. The weather is the last resort for people who haven't discovered their commonalities beyond being subjects to the same climate conditions. At the very least, I would call for more elaboration for the situation-boundedness of phatic communion. Personally, I've wondered if the phatic function could be viewed as the anti-function of context. But then again, even Jakobson's referential function and its relation to the context factor is not that well understood. The last portion concerns what Oleg Mutt (1982, 1983) called the cultural accent: "Even with faultless grammar, pronunciation and a rich vocabulary a certain amount of "non-nativeness" remains". Phatic communion is especially sensitive in this regard, because it's supposed to be natural conversation, and second-language learners may not have learned the second language in a natural setting. Mutt points out that the native listener can discern "occasional bookishness and/or over-colloquiality". This is the exact problem I have as someone who learned English first from American hip-hop and then from philosophy and social science textbooks. It's a matter of training that I form these lengthy awkwardly constructed sentences instead of resorting to Hell naw as I did a few years ago. That is, every now and then second-language speakers betray an inability to say things in the preferred way. The awareness of subtle issues is especially meritorious, because I've noticed some pretty lofty differences for practically similar communication situations. For example, when talking to a superior or instructor, do you engage in sociabilities because a working relationship is essential to a successful outcome, or do you skip the superfluous formalities in lieu of not wasting the other's time and get right to the point? While this is generally seen as the distinction between the high-context and low-context cultures in West and East, I first noticed in the very first papers I read about phatics, Nord (2007) in Western Europe stressing relationship and Kulkarni (2011) in India stressing getting to the point and not becoming "too familiar" with your superiors. Some very good observations in this line were pointed out more recently by Isurin, Furman and White (2015) with regard to American and Russian communication styles. I've expressed hope to continue David Zilberman's elegant typologization in this regard, but one would first need to understand Zilberman, which is a challenge in itself, and then dive deep into comparative, cross- and intercultural research (as in the Journal of Pragmatics), which presents another layer of tedious and laborious work to be done.

Skaggs, Steven 2016. U-P analysis: A neo-Peircean analytic tool for visual subjects. Cognitio 16(1): 169-178.

The very understanding or interpretation of the display as a message means that Jakobson's phatic function - the communicative function that calls attention to the signal itself as a "Hey, I'm talking to you" device - is in play. The phatic function is not simply a mechanical checking of the physical channel of communication, it is alerting the receiver that a message exists - in other words, it has an indispensable semantic, meta-informational component. No matter what syntactic features may comprise a display, its inherent function (as display) is always primarily and inherently semantic. Unlike the visent and the system, which can be described as if they are entirely syntactical structures (even though connotations invariably flow, like a comet's tail, from the syntactic material), the mere mention of a display already admits prior interpretation at the conceptual, informational level - without interpretation, one would not have understood the display to be a message to begin with. So, unlike the visent and the system, for which choosing to avoid any discussion of semantics is at least possible, if not usually productive, admitting that something is a display necessarily invokes the phatic-semantic component. (Skaggs 2016: 174)
There is an inherent pointlessness to the signal calling attention to itself. Firstly, doesn't this sound more like the poetic function? I the poetic function, the message draws attention to its own form, its syntactical and grammatical features, its rhythm and rhyme, its allusions and ellipses. Rather, Jakobson's point is that in the phatic function the signal draws attention to the contact feature, the fact that it is communicated, that there is an ongoing channel of communication. This leads me to the second critique, pointlessness. As Katharina Reiss pointed out 35 years ago, every message is necessarily communicated for it to be considered a message. The postcard may be primarily informative, but it is also a means of contact; the poem is primarily aesthetic, but it is also a means of contact; an advertisement slogan is primarily conative, but it is also a means of contact. Thus, "the phatic function does not lead to particulars of the text construction", that is, "does not arise from the text form, but from the use to which the text is put" (Reiss 1981: 125). If it's not put to communicative use - if a postcard, poem, or slogan is formulated but not communicated - it is not a message. All in all, there is no message without the phatic function. And yet, there are also no discernible "phatic" features of the text that would lead to it being perceived as primarily phatic. Instead, you have to turn to how it is understood or interpreted - which is exactly what Žegarac and Clark (1999) formulated into the "phatic interpretation" perspective. Drawing on Relevance Theory in pragmatics, according to their theory a message becomes primarily phatic when it is interpreted as such in light of the mutual cognitive environment of the communicants. This brings the social relationship between interlocutors into forefront. For example, when Pauline and Arthur are on good speaking terms, one of them mentioning the gas bill is informative, referential, practical. But when Pauline and Arthur are in a fight and haven't spoken to each other for three days straight, one of them mentioning the gas bill can be taken as a sign of continuing the conversation, to start talking to each other again. In this case, the stereotyped formula about phaticity, that the fact that something is said, rather than what is said, becomes really true. This illustration is a rather marginal case, but it can be argued that something similar operates in all forms of communication, that every message has a meta- component. While Skaggs formulates it as a "semantic, meta-informational component", Jurgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson (1951) did so even before Jakobson, formulating their theory of meta-communication, according to which a message contains some sort of instruction for how it should be interpreted (i.e. ironic tone in a joke, an interrogative tone in a question, etc.). Later, Bateson (1966) developed meta-communication (communication about communication) into μ-function (communication about relationship). Every now and then I notice someone implicitly (or less frequently, explicitly, as in Nord 2007 and Zabor 1978) making the connection between Jakobson's phatic function and Bateson's meta-communication, but I have yet to write about it myself. This is partly so because I believe that Jakobson basically re-formulated Ruesch's questions for the communication researcher into his linguistic functions, excluding the seventh (the effect of communication, which you understandably cannot find in poetry, which was Jakobson's zone of comfort). This connection made some followers of Jakobson uncomfortable at the time, and I haven't followed it up since, only noting it as a sort of quesit (a thing of possibility). All in all the general ethos is sensible enough: the phatic function in the sense given here would touch upon the semiotic threshold between signification and communication (assuming that a display has already transformed from a random piece of information into an organized presentation of signification). My qualm really is with the statement that the phatic function draws attention to the message, while I believe that it draws attention to the speaker. Let me emphasize: not even the relationship between the speakers, but the speaker. Namely, in Malinowski's phatic communion, "the bonds created between hearer and speaker are not quite symmetrical, the man linguistically active receiving the greater share of social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5), and if the the aim is "binding hearer to speaker by a tie of some social sentiment or other" (PC 7.8), it would make sense that the true aim of phatic communion is to speak for the sake of speaking, which includes the pleasure of speaking as well as the pleasure of being heard. Bonding is in this light almost an inconsequential side-effect. Furthermore, Jakobson formulated his definition of the phatic function partly on the basis of Hobart Mowrer's (1950) work on talking birds, where the quintessentially phatic utterance is the parrot's "Don't go." Even Jakobson's other illustration makes sense in light of this: when the child babbles to gain the mother's attention, it's not calling attention to the signal (some inarticulate sound the baby makes) but to itself. The channel or contact in Jakobson's definition is really extraneous to phatic communion.

Kirk, David S.; David Chatting, Paulina Yurman and Jo-Anne Bichard 2016. Ritual Machines I & II: Making Technology at Home. CHI '16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Santa Clara, California, USA - May 07-12, 2016. New York: ACM, 2474-2486.

Changing patterns of both work-related mobility and domestic arragements mean that 'mobile workers' face challenges to support and engage in family life whilst travelling for work. Phatic devices offer some potential to provide connection at a distance alongside existing communications infrastructure. Through a bespoke design process, incorporating phases of design ethnography, critical technical practice and provotyping we have developed Ritual Machines I and II as material explorations of mobile workers' lives and practices. In doing this we sought to reflect upon the practices through which families accomplish mobile living, the values they place in technology for doing 'family' at a distance and to draw insights in to the potential roles of digital technology in supporting them. We frame the design of our phatic devices in discussion of processes of bespoke design, offer advice on supporting mobile workers when travelling and articulate the values of making a technology at home when designing for domestic and mobile settings. (Kirk et al. 2016: 2474)
This is a topic headed by transnational family practices in polymedia environments. While the concept of phatic technologies originate from the work of Frank Vetere, who aimed to design technologies for grandparents and grandchildren to socialize through, it pretty soon moved on from inter-generational to trans-national families. The problem with many of these "devices" is that they're extremely specialized ("bespoke"?) and sometimes confuse phatic with haptic, aiming to facilitate touch-communication over distance (i.e. Hug-Me systems and the like). Basically, this paper is what technical publications call a "demo". Notice the diminutive "some potential" which points to such devices being marginal "alongside" existing systems of communication. Personally, I doubt in the value of such devices, because their specialization limits them to very few well-off users. The true potential for digital technology supporting novel family organizations is in the general-use technologies. This is exemplified in Madianou's paper by one of her subjects re-counting how she first used Skype on a laptop by her bedside but then got a Smartphone and could then keep up with her family via Facebook all the time.
Studies of phatic technologies point us towards a need, or role, for technology in supporting intimate connection at a distance. Mass adoption of such technologies however, does not seem close, and often the technologies, where they are described in prior research, do not particularly speak to the concerns and contingencies of the mobile worker navigating their relationship to home. (Kirk et al. 2016: 2474)
Or it could be the other way around, as technological habituation (Wang et al. 2011, 2012) may lead to those technologies that do support intimate connection to become popular. This cannot predicted, though, since we're only at the beginning of digital nativization. And as Miller (2015) demonstrates, sometimes our popular taken-for-granted assumptions about new technologies are far off the mark. In that particular case, it was held that Twitter and social media played a significant role in the Arab Spring, but in hindsight it turned out that the key factor is not the availability of technologies that lead to revolution, but the population of young people who want a revolution and will use any technology available to achieve it. Likewise, the telephone is not itself an intimate technology, but give it to Nepali youth (Kunreuther 2006), and they'll dial random numbers until they hear an attractive voice and start flirting. So I guess I agree with these authors in that theoretical/hypothetical research does not very often speak to the actual concerns and contingencies of technology users. Demos proceed with more hope and fanfare than evidence-based concern for public welfare.

Rusu, Olivia-Cristina 2016. A Corpus-Based Approach on the Relevance of Translating Interjections. Professional Communication and Translation Studies 9: 167-176.

The relevance-based theoretical approach tries to give an overt account of how the information-processing abilities of our mind allow us to communicate with one another. Consequently, its research concerns mental faculties and their causal efficacy, rather than texts or processes of text production. Signalling a powerful stimulus, interjections have different communicative values (e.g. referential, expressive, conative, phatic, etc.) or can function as pragmatic markers. (Rusu 2016: 167)
For some reason, this likens it to the rational psychology of 19th Century. The adjective, "overt", is probably added for the purpose of circumventing the implications of a study of minds in communication. As Ward and Horn (1999) raise against the earliest Relevance Theory approach to phaticity by Žegarac and Clark: "All we want," they say, "are beliefs about one another's shared cognitive environment" (1999: 557). All we have, on the other hand, are inferences about beliefs. An aspect that draws me away from the Relevance Theory approach is the drawing out of implications in fashion reminiscent of analytical philosophy. Both hold people to be more logical than they actually seem to be. Everyday communication proves to be a veritable mismatch of beliefs and ways of thought. That interjections "have different communicative values" is tantamount to Fuentes-Rodrigues et al. (above) calling pues a "polyfunctional form".
This degree of distrust is transferred literally in the Romanian translation as well, by means of a Romanian equivalent, the interjection "hm". In this case, the interjection 'hm' has both expressive and phatic pragmatic functions. Generally it expresses annoyance, dissatisfaction, doubt, mistrust and suspicion. In the above particular cases, the feelings of caution (1), reservation and wariness (2), and irritation (3) towards/caused by the presence of a stranger are perspicuously conveyed in the target source. (Rusu 2016: 175)
This part is interesting for wholly extraneous reasons. These very same feelings underline the need for phatic communion. The whole of paragraph 4 in PC is about how "to a natural man, another man's silence is not a reassuring factor, but, on the contrary, something alarming and dangerous" (PC 4.1). It seems beyond contention that "the presence of a stranger" is a source of anxiety. Small talk is a normal response to this anxiety. Furthermore, by making small talk you can find out if "the stranger [can] speak the language" (PC 4.2), that is, belongs to your linguistic community. Even more so, whether or not the stranger goes along with small talk or abstains is an indicator of (un)friendliness (PC 4.3). But whereas Rusu attributes these emotions to the interjection (hm), I see them as underlying the original reasoning for phatic communion.

Morador, Fernando Flores and Judith Cortés Vásquez 2016. New Social Movements, the Use of ICTs, and Their Social Impact. Revista Latina de Comunicacion Social 71: 398-412.

Phatic function. The new forms of communication and social interaction have exhibited the capability for action and implementation and as a result, the new media are now effectively developing what we have called a 'phatic function', understood as the ability to generate tangible actions and outcomes through the use of new technologies. Communication media, seen from this perspective, are capable of transforming reality through precise and arranged actions. They have become instruments of, and for, specific actions. (Morador & Vásquez 2016: 408)
More hope and fanfare. In the abstract of the paper, the point is put more succinctly: "new digital technologies allow for political agendas and proposals to increase in visibility, scope and dissemination", so that alternatives to established political party agendas can become more accessible. This seems true enough, if you consider the effects Facebook, Youtube, Reddit, or even 4chan have had on political events of late (2016 U.S. presidential election is a good example, and I await curiously the results of research into those effects). As to understanding the phatic function as "the ability to generate tangible actions and outcomes", I remain puzzled, if only due to the lack of tangible illustrations. The context reads rather like a conceptual review, with the phatic function thrown in for sake of glitter. Again, as Miller (2015) has demonstrated, the capability of new mediat echnologies to "transform reality" are somewhat overblown in public discourse. Again, this is something I'd like to see studied empirically, rather than conjectured hypothetically.

Sun, Yingze; Matthew P. Aylett and Yolanda Vazquez-Alvarez 2016. e-Seesaw: A Tangible, Ludic, Parent-child, Awareness System. CHI EA '16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Santa Clara, California, USA - May 07-12, 2016. New York: ACM, 1821-1827.

As the parent's survey showed, the phone was the main form of parent-child communication. However, it became apparent during the in-depth interviews that the primary purpose of the phone was to coordinate family business and was typically not reciprocal in that parents would initiate most calls. (Note: all quotes translated from Mandarin). "I like to call my daughter to talk to her and sometimes I also send her a instant message as a remider of important events." The use of the phone for reciprocal phatic communication (social communication) can be hampered by context: "I really enjoy communicating with my son and often want to know all his news from school. But he is only 8 and does not have a phone. So I cannot contact him until I return home from work." (Sun, Aylett & Vazquez-Alvarez 2016: 1824)
What stands out here is the quality of reciprocity. There is nothing in the earliest sources about phaticity to support reciprocity; quite contrary, Malinowski's version is even non-reciprocal - the more (linguistically) active person receives a greater share of social pleasure and self-enhancement. In another part of the paper, the authors write that their technology (e-Seesaw) "is a novel technological probe that, by allowing only a very simple communication, can help understand the underlying nature of connectedness" (ibid, 1826). Whether or not looking at the simplest forms of communication can help us better understand it, they do formulate "the concept of connectedness [...] as a contrast to social presence or social communication", and point to other research where connectedness is "split into sense of sharing and involvement and dissatisfaction with contact quality" (ibid, 1823). Now, this I like, if only because connectedness is rarely treated in any significant depth in phatic literature. Personally, I'm very interested in studies that demostrate how sense of connectedness varies between sexes, age groups, and cultures. Thus far, I've only looked into the first, and found a paper where male and female sense of connection is put in relief, one prefering emotional vulnerability and reliable alliance, and the other guidance and social comparison. If the concept of phatic qualia (Lemon 2013) were taken seriously, I would like to see it developed with these kinds of distinctions in mind, lest we require men to be as emotionally involved as women, and women to be as competitive as men.

Ayere, Mildred Atieno 2016. ELearning A Peace Building Initiative. A Paper Submitted to the "Youth, Education ad the Peace Process Commission" Conference, April 13-15, 2015, Abuja, Nigeria. (Online)

Analysis of the interactive forums was done using content analysis. Social presence in such interactive forums was measured using a scheme from Rourke et al. (1999) using 1720 coversations from 180 students forming the sample by assessing Social Presence in Asynchronous Text-Based Communication forums. This paper laid out three categories that formed the basis of social presence used in judging peacebuilding and conflict resolution: affective, interactive and cohesive. There were 9 indicators used in this study to generate these three categories: expression of emotions, use of humor, self-disclosure, referring explicitly to others' messages, asking questions, complimenting and expressing appreciation, expressing agreement, addressing or referring to the group using inclusive pronouns, and phatic or salutations. (Ayere 2016: 4)
Another conference paper employing a framework of content analysis that classifies linguistic phenomena in a way that reduces phaticity to greetings. Since I went over how some of these categories were included in Malinowski's phatic communion, I'll try to treat the rest with secondary literature:
  1. "Expression of emotions" is intimately connected with (hyper-)phaticity, even if its role is odd in Malinowski. While both Malinowski and La Barre seem to rely on the work of E. B. Tylor, where arguably Malinowski transformed "natural language" into a sort of natural conversation (i.e. phatic communion). But whereas Malinowski dismissed expressions of emotions (as one-sided), La Barre picked it up and formulated his version of phatic communication exactly as vocal and emotional communication. The latter is especially tied to the theory of linguistic origins, and as one of the earliest commentators put it, the earliest beginnings of language were "instinctual and emotional expressions rather than so complex a thing as thought" (Goldberg 1938: 57). Still, the interrelations of emotive and phatic functions are way too complex to give a brief overview.
  2. "Use of humor" is obviously tied to phatic communion, but for an authoritative source, one can look towards A. Kroeber, who discusses the earliest cultural activities, and includes "expressions of play and relaxation and humor", which are - like phatic communion - "ends in themselves, and in a way pleasures in themselves" (Kroeber 1948: 390-391). In later literature, there's this note: "Coleman explores the function of Black humor as a vehicle of phatic communion among Barbadians, Trinidadians, and Afro-Americans [and] argues that humor can reinforce group solidarity" (Atwater 1984: 4).
  3. "Referring explicitly to others' messages" enters into the phatic field only if one identifies the phatic function with meta-communication. In a very technical (meta-channel?) sense, referring to another's previous message reinforces or draws attention to the existence of the channel, and a common history of communication.
  4. "Asking questions" immediately reminds me of this little tidbit: "Socratic irony is perhaps the most ingenious possible development of phatic communion. The asking of questions is obviously a masterly shortcut for the establishment [of personal union]" (Burke 1937: 80).
  5. "Complimenting" yields only one result in my 20th Century corpus: "Middle-class British ladies are prone to compliment each other in a manner that gives pleasure to both parties [...]. Such overt evaluations carry overtones of contact" (Beale 1975: 278).
  6. And lastly, "addressing or referring to the group using inclusive pronouns" concerns an aspect very rarely treated by later literature. Namely, Malinowski's classism. In the very same passage I've been so heavily quoting, Malinowski says that "the primitive mind" can be found in "our own uneducated classes" (PC 4.3). By the 1950s, when the Red Scare was taking effect, one ethnologist made the connection between "uneducated classes" and the proletariat, and wrote that "Words like "comrade" have a type of linguistic use which Malinowski labels phatic communion" (Pieris 1951: 500).
While these are more like hints or suggestions rather than solid connections, the do point out the variety in how phaticity has been conceptualized over the last century or so. This list hopefully goes to show that phaticity can and has been broadened enough to include a connection to any and all content analysis categories.

Collins, Laura J. 2016. Rights Talk and Political Dispositions. Rhetoric & Public Affairs 19(1): 83-90.

As Gunn points out in his response, the demand and refusal pattern I note is not unique to the Second Amendment issue (he lists "the English language, capital punishment, abortion, the minimum wage, the U.S. border, or same-sex marriage" as other examples). Gunn argues, and I agree, that "this [pattern] implicates an affective dimension of rhetoric tied more to the phatic utterance and identity than the content of claims." It is this affective dimension of rhetoric and the importance of attending to it that I will address in the remainder of this response. Along with that, I will offer my thoughts on why I find rights discourse a particularly fruitful area for such inquiry. I turn to that latter point first. (Collins 2016: 84)
This author goes on to put forth "an identity-stabilizing function", which I would include as one of the (sub)functions of phatic communion. The group identity discourse of 1950s and 1960s could do great service for this undertaking (e.g. Festinger 1950). For example, Basil Bernstein wrote about "a cultural identity which reduces the need for the speakers to elaborate verbally their intent and make it explicit" (Bernstein 1964: 58). How exactly phatic communion and shared identifications interrelate I will leave up to if and when I'll actually deal with it, but the suggestion itself is promising enough. The paper itself is essayistic, a response to criticism, and looks very well written. I might consider reading it in full, should I ever return to Laclau and the empty signifier polemic.

Kennedy, Helen 2016. Post, Mine, Repeat: Social Media Data Mining Becomes Ordinary. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

As De Ridder (2015) argues, social media platforms promote the practice of being social, thus transforming intimacy from a private to a public matter, though many have contested the value of this simple private/public distinction in the context of social media, as I highlighted in the next chapter. Trottier (2012) concurs with this view of social media as spaces to be intimate. Tracing the history of social media across various platforms, he argues that what they have in common is that they are characterised by 'interiority' (2012, p. 6). They are perceived as spaces for psychological comfort, in which communication is phatic, not informational. But as well as being spaces in which personal information is shared, social media can be said to be intimate in other ways too, suggests Trottier. First, he argues that social media are dwellings; we spend a lot of time in them and use them extensively. We depend on dwellings for privacy, and the walls of dwellings are supposed to shield us from public scrutiny. But on Facebook, walls become spaces for the public display of our personal lives. For him, one of the problems with social media data mining is that it is comparable to surveilling our private dwellings. (Kennedy 2016: 25)
I'm not sure that's the kind of "promition" social media is actually aiming towards. Facebook, for example, looks more like a way to promote advertisement to millions of people who see the environment as a social space and don't really think about them being constantly bombarded by targeted commercial propaganda. I would argue that it does not transform "intimaty from a private to a public matter", if only because Facebook, for example, is not as public as Twitter. But it seems also the case that there has always been a socially accepted limit to public displays of intimacy, and this limit is implicitly acknowledged on social media - too revealing, too animalistic tendencies are still socially shunned. With "spaces for psychological comfort" I agree more, since people "unfollow" friends who post or share uncomfortable material (or an uncomfortable magnitude of material). But instead of "comfort", I'd refer to "pleasure", which has a longer history (cf. Kroeber and Malinowski, above). Pleasure also seems like a more stronger motivator than comfort. We'll tolerate pleasures that are uncomfortable, but will not tolerate comforts that are displeasuring. But I digress, comfort is definitely present in Malinowski's phatic communion, particularly in the need "to get over the strange and unpleasant tension which men feel when facing each other in silence" (PC 4.6). The fact that a social media timeline could become a record of your life is one reason I don't use it much myself - I'd like to maintain my virtual "dwelling" private, and if public then (at least seemingly) unconnected with my physical/legal personhood. The quip about surveillance might invite parallels with Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Maybe the "oblong telescreens" of that imagined future will yet become a reality in nearable smart-screens. But in that case it won't be the thought police that keeps a watchful eye, but an artificial intelligence taught to recognize speech, vocal tones and body movement. Aren't "Smart TV-s" with in-built webcams and recognition software already a thing?

Cui, Yaxiao 2016. Adjacency Pairs and Interactive Consciousness in Virginia Woolf's Novels. Style 50(2): 203-222.

On the surface, Mr. Ramsay's questions in [2] and [3] and Lily's reply in [4] form a simple phatic exchange similar to the how-are-you sequence in Extract (1), despite the fact that Mr. Ramsay's speech is presented in free indirect style:
Mr Ramsay: Was anybody looking after her? Had she everything she wanted?
Lily Briscoe: Oh, thanks, everything.
>It appears that Lily is simply taking Mr. Ramsay's utterance as phatic question expressing kindness and that she gives a preferred polite reply. (Cui 2016: 213)
The word "exchange" appears a total of 4 times in Malinowski's text. Still, knowing that the etymology of "phatic" is speech, this "speech exchange" really amounts to conversation. Notice that here the qualifier is "simple" whereas Malinowski uses "mere" (a total of 6 times, the outstanding uses being "mere phrase of politeness", "mere sociabilities", "the mere presence of others", "the mere need of companionship" and, most pointedly, "a mere exchange of words"). As to the issue at hand, the confusion stems from a phatic interpretation of a non-phatic utterance. That's basically it, and everyday life is full of such occasions. "Kindness" on the other hand caught my attention, and I found an excerpt in which "Hi" is said to be a contraction of "How are you?" (Esen 1973: 208-209). The same author notes that there's a distinction to be drawn between Western approach to phatic communion, which is supposedly impersonal, as opposed to African phatic communion, which consists of concern for the individual, his or her life and conditions.

Bataeva, K. A. 2016. Social Codes of Chat-Communication: Ethnomethodological Approach. Актуальні проблеми філософії та соціології 9: 6-10.

One of the main codes of chat-communication that determines its peculiarity is the code of easy, unconstrained and superficial communication for communication ("contact for contact") with dominating phatic function of speech. In ethnomethodology, chat-communication is analogized to such forms of light entertainment as "cocktail-party", rest in a bar. According to H. Rheingold, "the logging onto online services and chat rooms is similar to the feeling of the peeking into the cafe, the pub, the common room, to see who's there, and whether you want to stay around for a chat". S. Herring has paid attention to another aspect of "cocktail-party" that allows likening this practice to chat-communication: in both cases, there is a chaotic exchange of replicas in which a large number of social actors participate where any of them tries to attract attention of others to him/her with muffling the others by loud speaking and sometimes responding inappropriately; involving very different, not related to each other topic of conversation. (Bataeva 2016: 6)
I have a feeling that "easy, unconstrained and superficial" constitute a back-translation of Malinowski's "free, aimless and social". As for terms like "code" and "dominant", these point to an unmistakably Jakobsonian leaning. Russian authors often have a very robust handling of Jakobson's theory, since they have more immediate access to his thinking. Barring the analogy between social gatherings and social media, I quite like the listing, particularly the "cocktail-party", since this forms, in my opinion, a crucial connection between the "European drawing-room" in Malinowski's text, and the American sociological tradition that took over the point, but not the term, of phatic communion. It is just another quesit, since I have yet to verify it (or figure out how to verify it), but I have a strong opinion that Jurgen Ruesch's elaboration of phatic communion in 1951 might have influenced or inspired Erving Goffman's treatment of the cocktail party a few years later, seeing that both worked and had connections with the Palo Alto group. I have yet to see anyone treating these authors in depth, at least with regard to this connection, which means that I'll have to do it myself at some point (I've tried to make this step, but it didn't get far).

Purdy, Michael W.; Maria F. Loffredo Roca, Richard D. Halley, Bronia Holmes and Carol S. Christy 2016. Listening is... Five Personal Worlds of Listening: An Auto-Ethographic Approach. International Journal of Listening 00: 1-18.

Attending to what is experienced, and how one experiences in the description of listening, I find six generally distinct modes of listening [descriptors in brackets are related deficient modes of listening]:
  1. Nourishing/satisfying, enjoying/appreciating, "playful" listening as learning. This is perceptual engagement as a wholesome experience, maybe in the sense of Branislaw Malinowski's (1929) phatic communication - appreciated and nourishing for its own sake. What we appreciate we listen to and learn naturally as a playful experience. This is not about sharing as imparting buth rather as a common, mutually creative experience.
(Purdy et al. 2016: 4)
By "wholesome" experience, I assume something like "holistic" experience is meant. This amounts to something like Malinowski's statements, "Language here is not dependent upon what happens at that moment, it seems to be even deprived of any context of situation" (PC 1.3) and "The whole situation consists in what happens linguistically" (PC 7.7). "For its own sake" is an interesting construction that appears frequently - even the previous excerpt had "communication for [the sake of] communication" - but I have no idea where it comes from, since Malinowski nor Jakobson say anything like it. From the earliest sources, there's "talking for talk's sake" (Goldberg 1938: 59) and "talking for the sake of talking" (Hymes 1971: 43-44), which are pretty general. There are also several instances in which the sound-quality is put into focus, as "where language is used more for the sake of its sound than its content" (Crystal 1965: 171) and there being "a hypnotic value in the sound of words, words for word's sake" (Critchley 1967: 119). But the most poignant observation ties it with the "social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5): "They do so for the sake of a social-satisfaction - the satisfaction of orienting their activity towards each other with the resulting psycho-biological benefits whatever these may be - the security of acceptance, exaltation, esprit de corps, morale, we-feeling, enthusiasm or extasis" (Fernandez 1965: 913-914). Playfulness could probably be added to the list, since it emphasizes the same element - the pleasure or satisfaction gained from doing something merely for the sake of doing it. That is, I believe, the primary point of phatic communion as a linguistic function - the use of language not to express emotions, coordinate action, or inform someone of something, but using language as a mode of action in itself.

Musa, Aisar Salihu; Mohd Nazri Latiff Azmi and Nur Salina Ismail 2016. Rethinking Social Media: A Review of Blog Usage in ESL Writing Classes. ICL 2015: International Conference on Languages, Kuala Lumpur. (Online)

The integration of social networks, computer-mediated-communication (CMC), and other computer and mobile-based technologies (Web 2.0) in educational institutions of learning to support pedagogical processes is now widely regarded as a breakthrough in educational researches. It has been argued that these modern technologies have established a wide space in the lives of both teachers and students as the primary means of communication and interaction. Therefore, instead of using them for phatic communication alone, they are now turned to be used as tools for learning and teaching. (Musa, Azmi & Ismail 2016: 1)
That's an odd sequence, since computer-mediated-communication (over the network that became the internet) became a tool for learning and teaching and supporting education research (i.e. the ERIC database) before it became a social network where "communication for the sake of communication" could be found. Social networks have certainly provided new platforms and opportunities for education, such as the so-called "third spaces" between social life and schoolwork (Aaen & Dalsgaard 2016), but presently it looks like another case of hope and fanfare over actual results.

Meraz, Sharon and Zizi Papacharissi 2016. Networked Framing and Gatekeeping. In: Witschge, Tamara; C. W. Anderson, David Domingo and Alfred Hermida (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications Ltd, 95-112.

Moreover, the phatic nature of endorsements and rebroadcasting of the same news, even when there was no new news to report, helped sustain an ambient, always-on pace for the movement. Conventional news reporting blended with drama, opinion, and live blogged facts to the point where it was impossible to distinguish one from the other, and doing so missed the point. This frequently enhanced the intensity of the stream, giving shape to a form of news best understood as affective (Papacharissi and de Fatima Oliveira, 2012). (Meraz & Papacharissi 2016: 105)
This "phatic nature" I believe to be quintessentially Jakobsonian, in that the "rebroadcasting of the same news" is a virtual equivalent of the Dorothy Parker illustration - how many times can you really say "Well!" and "here we are"? Not only does this equate phaticity with asemanticity ("well" doesn't mean anything significant), but it introduces the factor of repetition. That is, Jakobson's "mere purport of prolonging communication" becomes operative. Personally, I suspect that this was introduced into the phatic function because, as in the Parker illustration, it is often difficult to find a proper way to end small talk, it sort of drifts into an unsatisfying nothingness.
It is worth noting that the phatic nature of the platform, which encourages the sharing of news and opinions as a way of socially connecting with others is bound to lend an affective form to emerging narratives. Affect refers to pre-emotive intensity or drive that we experience. Affect itself is not an emotion, but it represents the intensity with which we experience and express emotions like joy, sadness, pain and so on. Emotions are subjective, but the affordances of the platform invite the propagation of intensity when emotions align or diverge. For example, repetitive use of retweeting will afford a particular frame a level of intensity, affectively propagated, that may help advance that frame to prevalence. Alternatively, the affective tonality of a narrative, discursively materializing through consistent use of humor, sarcasm or other expressive modalities may similarly increase or decrease the intensity with which a potential frame comes into or drifts out of prominence. (Meraz & Papacharissi 2016: 106)
I assume the phatic nature of the platform makes the latter a phatic technology. Whether or not it is bound to lead to affect operating in this way, I'm not so yet sure. The problem here is "affect". This exact quality of "intensity" it is supposed to refer to is what stopped me from engaging in theorizing about affective intimacy, mediated affection, etc. I couldn't get on board with affect itself not beig an emotion, because much psychological literature does conflate affect with emotion. Where it reaches my purview is the alignment and divergement of emotions, since this falls in line with Malinowski's "emphasis on affirmation and consent [agreement], mixed perhaps with an incidental disagreement [divergement]" (PC 5.3).

Ball, Christopher and Shunsuke Nozawa 2016. Tearful Sojourns and Tribal Wives: Primitivism, kinship, suffering, and salvation on Japanese and British reality television. American Ethnologist 43(2): 243-257.

This focus on encounter indexes a larger ideological trend in contemporary Japan that treats communicative "contact," the phatic function, as a central object of reflexive discourse (Nozawa 2015). More specifically, the focus is not so much on an encounter with the real but an encounter that feels real. It recalls what Marilyn Ivy (1995) calls "discourses of the vanishing," the obsessive invocation in Japan's capitalist modernity of a desire to "touch" the vanishing past of tradition and custom through fetishistic disavowal. Indeed the theme of disappearance and loss also operates in Tearful Sojourns as a kind of ostinato that punctuates its episodes with the repeated invocation of three elements: furusato (home), the attendant construct of dentō (tradition), and the national-cultural imagery of minzoku (peoplehood, or "the folk"). (Ball & Nozawa 2016: 246)
Shunsuke Nozawa is as insightful as always (at some point I may have to read everything he has ever written) - this focus on the unreality of our "phatic fantasies" is really interesting, and could be developed very far with the aid of philosophy. The centrality of phaticity for reflexive discourse is something I have indeed thought about, but not written. Much like the 19th century philosopher who said that all criticism is in the end a form of self-criticism, I believe reflexivity brings one's relation, connection, or contact with oneself into the forefront. In negative sense, this is apparent in all the cultural products that come off as stillborns for dwelling on the process of that production (i.e. rappers rapping about how they rap, writers writing about how they write, youtubers making videos about how they make videos, and most egregiously all the movies about screenwriters). For a positive conception of this process, I hope to some day construct some theory of endophatics, with the C. W. Mills-ian sentiment that self-communication is most productive when it elucidates aspects of inter-communication (in Mills' idiom, when one sees one's own problems as related to broader societal issues).

Cui, Xi 2016. Mobile Media Events: Social Cohesion through an IM App. In: Mitu, Bianca and Stamatis Poulakidakos (eds.), Media Events: A Critical Contemporary Approach. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 243-261.

In this chapter, I have argued that the group communication features of PCTs provide new opportunities to strengthen social cohesion through mobile media events. Following Dayan and Katz's (1992) tripartite formula, I analysed the communication genre I call 'mobile media events' that emerged from my data. Syntactically, pre-event coordination serves to announce the event ahead of time. The aparageist of 'perpetual contact' and mobile users' 'ambient awareness' of the 'full-time virtual community' substitute for the traditional sense of 'live broadcast' to provide a symbolic space, equivalent to the physical locations of rituals in anthropological studies. Semantically, reverence and ceremony are implicated in showing and talking about ceremonial proceedings, highlighting or avoiding of certain sacred moments and places, and the phatic communication mostly void of utilitarian meanings. Pragmatically, both the intensified communication in the chatting group and the interviews showed that people were excited and enthralled, in spite of being moderated by personal connections to the protagonists of the events. (Cui 2016: 257)
By connecting the dots, wouldn't the affective nature of social media platforms lend itself to this strengthening of social cohesion? Likewise, it may be said that much of that cohesion is imaginary rather than real. The recent political upheavals provide solid illustrations of this: the drawn-out election cycle bifurcated the "symbolic space" of online communities into two distinct poles. Everyday life remained much the same, but conceptually, society was divided into two. More generally, I've attempted to treat this new symbolic space in terms of diffuseness; nowadays, online communities span vast distances and time zones, but somehow manage to retain a measure of cohesion. It could be said that the traditional Gemeinshaft and Gesellshaft are now surpassed by a new shaft for which I have not yet a name. What on earth are "utilitarian meanings"? The ethos is sensible enough, as Malinowski says that phatic communion does "not in this case connect people in action" (PC 2.2), but that's a context-of-situation oriented observation, whereas I see no hindrance to "utilitarian meanings" (in the sense of practical suggestions and observations) being shared in phatic communion (I'm inclined to believe that when people small-talk they do give off-handed guidance to each other, even if it concerns trivial matters like cooking food, where to buy something, how to deal with municipal matters, etc.).

Wang, Weichao 2016. A Genre-based Study of Insurance Sales Agent-Client Interactions in Transformational China's Rural Areas. International Journal of English Linguistics 6(3): 88-104.

Warming up serves an important function in insurance sales agent-client interaction, and it distinguishes itself from other sales encounters. For most of the time, they appear in the form of phatic talk, while phatic expression, first introduced by Malinowski (1923) as one whose only function is to perform a social talk, as opposed to conveying information, or in other words, people use language to establish and maintain social contact in free, purposeless social talks. Such a view is echoed by Anthony (1964), "speech to promote human warmth", since for good or ill, we are social creatures and cannot bear to be cut off too long from our fellows, even if we have nothing really to say to them, and "phatic communication refers also to trivial and obvious exchanges about the weather and time, made up of ready-made sentences or foreseeable statements. [...] Therefore, this is a type of communication establishes a contact without transmitting a precise content, where the container is more important than the content." (Casalegno & McWilliam, 2004) Nonetheless, phatic communication serves as "important social lubricant" (Diana, 2002), in the words of Goffman (1967), "The gestures which we sometimes call empty are perhaps in fact the fullest things of all". Phatic communication can occur in three categories of the conversations, that is, at the beginning, at the end and at anywhere as a space filler. Phatic communication is of great significance for insurance sales communication in the sense that it is exactly, for most of the time, where Guanxi dynamics (local interpersonal relationships) perform. Now the specific type of warming up used in agent-client dialogues are summarized as follows. (Wang 2016: 91)
"Warming up" must be added to the growing list of phatic metaphors, which already includes the "social lubricant" here mentioned, as well as things like "social glue", and the Japanese metaphor for air-currents. At some point I should have gathered enough metaphors to treat of meta-phatic poetics, or something to that effect (or employ cognitive metaphor theory to break down these analogies). Now the bit about humans being social creatures reflects "the fundamental tendency which makes the mere presence of others a necessity for man" (PC 3.3), but it really reaches beyond (before) Malinowski, as this was the exact point Herbert Spencer had in his discussion of social communion, which Malinowski transformed into a theory of language by making it phatic communion. The idea itself is sophomoric and cannot be taken as an absolute, especially since there's evidence that testosterone, for example, has a role in men's need for solitude (some people can bear to be cut off from fellows for a long time; what is asceticism?). I also take issue with the division of interaction into median and peripheral phases (sensu John Laver), if only because the phrasing here leaving the impression that phatic communication (which I hold to be more general than phatic communion) can occur only in an ongoing conversation. Were it so, all talk of phatic technologies, phatic infrastructures, and phatic media culture would be immediately barred. Now that I think about it, the distinction between hypo- and hyper-phaticity should take this aspect into account. While hypophaticity most often deals with the phatic tokens of utterances within the bounds of the conversation (social intercourse), many hyperphatic approaches cross that boundary by outlining non-conversational mechanisms of communion. Even Laver seems to cross that boundary with the "web of social solidarity" bit where consolidatory tokens are merely the signs of something exceeding the bounds of the conversation.

Gordon, Andrew 2016. Material Functions: Counterfeit Correspondence and the Culture of Copying in Early Modern England. In: Daybell, James and Andrew Gordon (eds.), Cultures of Correspondence in Early Modern Britain. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 85-109.

Perrot pointed out the lack of any seal, to which we can add the absence of any marker of secrecy or even concern for security in this correspondence: no form of encryption or cipher is suggested, nor is there any commentary on delivery or transmission, so often a fundamental object of treason investigations, and a virtually ubiquitous "phatic" feature of most early modern correspondence. (Daybell & Gordon 2016: 96)
This kind of "phatic" feature is also interesting in modern correspondence, though it gets very technical. For example, Radovanovic & Ragnedda (2011) point out the "session initiation protocols" in software engineering, which let users of instant chat messaging services know if their contacts are "online" or if they've "seen" the last message. These kinds of "features" are phatic only in the very technical sense following Jakobson's phatic function, in which case the whole ordeal becomes about the technological affordances of the given communication channel. Nevertheless, a historical overview of such means ("phatic features") would be interesting. One of my own favourite examples is the <address> html tag in the very first versions of the markup language; back in the 1990s when web-pages were very personal and manually written, the address tag apparently marked a means of contact, whether e-mail or physical location. With the automation of website creation this tag got lost, and latest versions of html do not support it. I bet there are many such relics out there. In the originally meant sense of "commentary on delivery or transmission", I'm reminded of a Wikipedia article that treats "phatic rhetoric of personal and official relations" in a medieval manual of letter writing.

Paprocki, Kasia 2016. 'Selling Our Own Skin:' Social dispossession through microcredit in rural Bangladesh. Geoforum 74: 29-38.

By "social reproduction," I refer to the work conducted outside of the strict sphere of commodity production, meaning both biological and physical labor that reproduces individuals, families, and communities. Feminist scholars of social reproduction examine the historical separation under capitalism of production from consumption and reproduction, positing that this separation causes the under-valuation of women's labor in the home. I conceptualize social reproduction as inclusive of both household labor as well as what Julia Elyachar refers to as "phatic labor," the work to produce and reproduce social infrastructure, means of communication, and markers of value in a community upon which the creation of economic value ultimately rests (Elyachar, 2010). (Paprocki 2016: 30)
I'm not fully sure this is what phatic infrastructure implies. Phatic labor, as I understood it, pertained to the conversational work to achieve alternative, casually-socially oriented routes to goods and services, not the reproduction of social infrastructure itself. Social infrastructure is already in place, no amount of small talk will influence it; but where social infrastructure is lacking, small talk can produce (rather than reproduce) ways to remedy those lackings, i.e. a phatic infrastructure of knowing people who know people. Now, the other grand aspects here outlined - producing means of communication and markers of value - are extremely interesting (for means of communication, one can look to the role of technological habituation) but I'm not at all sure if and how they relate to phatic infrastructure. But this is my own fault - I've postponed a thorough survey of literature on phatic infrastructure (i.e. all the papers that rely on or refer to Elyachar 2010). I'm planning to revisit this paper (along with some other notable ones I read more than a year or two ago) soon, since phatic infrastructure is one of the most promising modern developments and deserves a thorough treatment in the Wikipedia article about phatics I'm very slowly writing.

Helms, Dietrich 2016. 'If a Song Could Get Me You': Analysis and the (Pop) Listener's Perspective. In: Borio, Gianmario (ed.), Musical Listening in the Age of Technological Reproduction. New York: Routledge, 253-274.

There are dozens of phatic signs in the visual performance (such as Larsen waving a sign or opening her blouse to present a gingerbread heart). I will concentrate on mentioning a few in the music: the so-called 'hook' at the beginning of a song in popular music is of extreme importance in attracting listeners' attention and for the branding of the song. In 'If a Song Could Get Me You', the initial hook is made up of the individual sound of the performer's voice, the individual instrumental sound of the first chord that blends a guitar arpeggio and a piano chord, and finally, the appealing or calling quality of the first bright vocal sound combined with a descending fourth in the memory. (Helms 2016: 267)
Personally, I find "phatic signs" as dubious as Barthes' phatic code, as both are results of a Jakobsonian conception of phaticity, which emphasizes attention. Namely, I believe attention to be a secondary, nearly unimportant element in phatic discourse. After all, it entered into Jakobson's definition via Mowrer's study of talking birds, where "the presence and attention of the trainer [were] important to the bird" (Mowrer 1950: 692). This can be criticized from several viewpoints. Karl Bühler, for example, marks this aspect down as pertaining to appeal (the conative function), in that it highlights "the behaviour [or reactions] of the receiver" (Bühler 2011[1934]: 38). Somehow, attention becomes conflated with the communicative relationship. In its phatic aspect, this attention somehow becomes divorced from the receiver's reaction and becomes an inherent property of the message (a phatic sign). I'm not so sure this is well founded. In Malinowski's original supplement, the closest he comes to attention is the bit about "social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5), which presumably follows gaining the attention of others. For example, one of the very earliest notes about phatic communion states that phatic communion is "characterized by a vague general intent to stimulate social attention" (Lorimer 1929: 108). In general, I object to the understanding of "phatic signs" as those that attract attention, since attracting attention seems to be the fundamental quality of all signs - in Peircean idiom, if it is not a sign for someone, then it's not a sign at all (the implication being that phenomena that don't attract attention are not really signs, or do not function as signs). But here I'm perhaps being polemical for the sake of being polemical.
A pop song has to imprint itself on its audience's memory. This is why repetition is so important. However, if repeated too often, the elements of a song lose interest for the listener. This is why a musical bridge after two repetitions of the chorus is a standard phatic element in mainstream pop. This is also why every repetition of a verse has some small elements that vary the sound and help to attract the listener's attention. The second and third verse in our example have different guitar and mandolin riffs. (Borio 2016: 267)
Very early on, I drew the connection between Paul Virilio's concept of the phatic image, or "a targeted image that forces you to look and holds your attention" (Virilio 1994: 14), and my favourite philosophers's concept of quasi-attention, which emphasises the point that attention is by definition a voluntary mental act, making any phatic signs or images that aim to hold the subject's attention almost against the subject's own will something other than true attention or, in other words, a quasi-attention. In this sense the phatic element in mainstream pop that imprints itself on the audience's memory is comparable to the loudness of commercials, the emotional appeal of propaganda, etc. It gets very fuzzy and fluid very fast. I've yet to make anything of it, though there's heaps of potential there.

Prieto-Blanco, Patricia 2016. (Digital) photography, experience and space in transnational families: A case study of Spanish-Irish families living in Ireland. In: Cruz, Edgar Gómez and Asko Lehmuskallio (eds.), Digital Photography and Everyday Life: Empirical Studies on Material Visual Practices. New York: Routledge, 122-140.

The phatic is a mode of human action that affords a community to be formed through the performed communicative act (Wulff 1993, pp. 142-144). It both assumes and creates a social relationship of contact. The phatic fulfils a subjective and thus variable need, on the one hand, and an intersubjective or constant on the other, the latter being where the tacit knowledge resides (Jakobson & Bogatyrev 1980). In turn, phatic acts are essentially mimicable, reproducible because they conform to pre-existing conventions and they are performed within a certain community of participants (Austin 1975, pp. 96-98): the 'phatic community'. A 'phatic community' is pro-actively established under common circumstances by attending well-known rules and responds to the objectivity of the situation and to the subjectivity of the participants. It is formally constituted in a vis-a-vis (gegenüber) of roles. However, the face-to-face situation, as well as customary types of behaviour, can be mediated/simulated when it comes to visual telecommunication and media presence. Just as in Wulff's example of television (1993, p. 151), 'phatic communities' can be established over space. (Prieto-Blanco 2016: 137)
The phrase, community construction, does yield very easily from much phatic discourse, even though in Malinowski's own treatment phatic communion would appear more like a result of an existing (linguistic) community, rather than a process of forming a community. Even Jakobson and Bogatyrev (1980) seem to prefer this order: "An item of folklore per se begins its existence only after it has been adopted by a given community, and only in those of its aspects which the community has accepted" (pp. 4-5). Lately I've begun to doubt in the connection I drew earlier between La Barre and J. Austin, since the latter seems to be using "phonic", "phatic", and "rhetic" as extensions of their Greek etymologies ("sound", "speech", and "utterance", respectively) instead of influences like Peirce or La Barre. That phatic acts are mimicable is inherently limited when Austin goes on to note that when the monkey makes sounds that are recognizable as human words, the monkey is not engaging in a phatic act (that is, speaking), since it does not know that its vocalizations conform to pre-existing conventions. With "phatic communities", the phaticity of said communities is elevated to a level that seems beyond definition (undefinable). I cannot place it in Malinowskian, LaBarrean, or Jakobsonian framework because it supersedes all of them. Patricia Prieto-Blanco is way ahead of me in this regard.

Lagerkvist, Amanda 2016. Existential media: Toward a theorization of digital thrownness. New Media & Society 00: 1-15.

Besides these negative social aspects when ethical protocols disintegrate, in studying online support groups, or publics that assemble around memories of individual and collective trauma and grief, we may focus on solidaric and emphatic communication (Lövheim, 2013) in limit-situations. Password-protected support environments online provide a different picture of the culture of connectivity, as they arguably constitute islands of profundity, meaning, and connective presence, partially untainted by the corporate logic of social media and phatic communion (Miller, 2008). Another important line of inquiry describes how media performs the continuing role of ritual in our late modern digital societies. Here, we might pursue virtual mourning practices as rituals in search for existential security, be approaching digital rituals (lighting digital candles or memory work in communities of grief) as part of collective repair work for individuals, groups, and society at large (Sumiala, 2013). (Lagerkvist 2016: 1)
Here we've stumbled upon a rarity in phatic discourse, an aspect that I will eventually treat under the heading of ectophatics. That is, this assembling around memories of trauma and grief comes very close to Weston La Barre's vision of phatic communication on the cultural level. His cultural anthropology is markedly psychoanalytic, and it shows when, for example, he writes that "culture is in part a means that people have of sharing one another's emotional burdens" (La Barre 1954: 244-246). This culminates in an epigraphic statement: "A surprisingly large part of every culture is merely the phatic sharing of common emotional burdens, and has no relevance at all to the outside world" (1954: 306). In conceptualizing how "societies themselves make up a mutually protective "environment" for the individuals constituting them" (ibid, 306), he seems to come very close to the human-specific Umwelt of German philosophers, called the Lebenswelt, making the connection between the emotional aspect of collective memory (in his words, the "common unsolved problems and common anxieties"), and phatic communication. Above, Kecskés (2016: 57) noted the "preferred ways of saying things and preferred ways of organizing thoughts in a language", which in present light may see more like unavoidable ways of saying things and organizing thoughts. Though, the extent of "collective trauma and grief" is unknown. Personally, I know that Estonian culture has a hang-up with slavery and foreign power; likewise I've heard that the symptomatic collective emotional figment of Russian anxiety is fear of a strange man approaching you with an axe (not sure if there's any validity to this anecdote). All in all this seems little studied, or if, then quarters unknown to me. The other emboldened phrases ("the culture of connectivity") are just neat. The original purport towards online memory work is reminiscent of a study titled "Witnessing in the age of the database" (Papailias 2016).

Beciu, Camelia and Mirela Lazar 2016. Instrumentalising the 'mobility argument': discursive patterns in the Romanian media. In: Endres, Marcel; Katharina Manderscheid and Christophe Mincke (eds.), The Mobilities Paradigm: Discourses and Ideologies. New York: Routledge, 48-67.

Within the 'mobility-settlement' nexus, the media constructs global representations of the social actors through their association with the city or the region in the country of destination where they have settled, naturalising 'routes of the Romanians' in European countries in the - implied - context of labour migration. Through this representation, emphasis is placed on 'the Romanians' ad less on the social actors of migration. By making 'routes', 'regions' and 'cities' visible, this discursive mobility geography creates 'groups' and categories of 'Romanians'. Mobility becomes significant in terms of the Romanians' presence in various European areas. Thus, the presse establishes a politics of visibility within a social field of mobility-settlement, with individuals and groups being represented as national actors. This homogeneous social space, consisting of typical characters and actions, generates a 'phatic morality [...] created by long-term, habitual, ambient forms of mediated connectivity' (Frosh 2011, 383). (Beciu & Lazar 2016: 53-54)
Even back when I read Frosh (2011) I expressed confusion about where or how it brings morality into phaticity. It left me thinking that I apparently don't get it when it comes to morality. Frosh's argument that "television is in part morally enabling because of inattention and indifference that frequently characterize relations between the medium and its audience" (2011: 385) flew right over my head. Personally, I like to think of morality in its etymological import between right and wrong behaviour, instead of good and bad actions. So what this "morally enabling" is, I have no idea. I'll mark this line down as something I need to work more on in the future. Because as it stands, I can't make heads or tails of what this is about.

Mercea, Dan 2016. Civic Participation in Contentious Politics: The Digital Foreshadowing of Protest. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

The fact remains that collaboration in the form of debates or sharing and consuming content has been far more infrequent on social networking sites than the phatic validation of social bonds (BaeBrandtzaeg and Heim 2009, pp. 147-149). Instances have, however, been recorded of collaboration predicated on distributed forms of leadership (Jameson 2009). Based on horizontal, informal and flexible approach to group coordination, distributed leadership both encourages and is contingent on active participant contributions to the articulation of a collective project. In sum, an informed analysis on the question of whether democratic organisation may be coextensive with distributed collaboration will necessarily dwell on the expectations that actors party to it bring to the table and, in equal measure, the rules of engagement they formulate and perhaps also dispute together. (Mercea 2016: 134)
Above, I had to consider whether community-building was the point of phatic communion, and pointed out that the order seems to be reverse: there is first a linguistic community, and then representatives of that community get together in casual conversation and create personal ties/bonds. So, in a sense, community (linguistic community) is already there, but phatic communion fosters the creation of personal relationships within a community, in turn fostering an increase in community-feeling. Here, "the phatic validation of social bonds" seems to bring Jakobsonian factors into the mix. Social bonds, presumably personal relationships, already exist, (people have already befriended each other on social media) and in their online interaction they validate those bonds, "phatically" (in a non-significant or non-communicative manner). This and the previous instance go to show that if you rely on a second- or third-hand conception of phaticity, the outcome may not make a lot of sense for someone proceeding with the toolkits of the first-hand conceptions.

Bălău, Nicoleta and Sonja Utz 2016. Exposing information sharing as strategic behavior: power as responsibility and "Trust" buttons. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 46(10): 593-606.

Thus, trust can stimulate information sharing via several routes (see below for more elaboration). In a similar vein, research on the "Like" button has shown that it is used in many different ways; not only - as originally intended - to like content, but also as phatic relationship maintenance behavior or as acknowledgement of reading (Hayes, Carr, & Wohn, n.d.). A "Trust" button might also be interpreted in different ways by different people. The sheer presence of the "Trust" button might simply prime trust, or the use of the "Trust" button might increase knowledge-efficacy and willingness to share this specific piece of information. (Bălău & Utz 2016: 3)
Relationship maintenance is another interesting aspect, which has an odd place in phatic discourse. While I've generally held this to be a Jakobsonian tenet, he uses the synonym, "sustaining communication". And before Jakobson, the earliest note precedes him with only a few years: an anonymous author put forth in 1954 that the "language [of phatic communion] is only a more formalized effort to create and maintain the social bond". But what is most interesting, is the pre-Malinowskian appearance of this factor. Namely, Herbert Spencer noted "maintenance of union with fellow-beings" and how it "depends in part on the presence of sympathy, and the resulting restraints on conduct" (1876: 19). If Facebook liking-behavior is read as an expression of sympathy, this comes across as a monumental coincidence. Likewise, this hypothetical Trust-button priming trust might be comparable to Spencer's "restraints on conduct", which he elsewhere in the same paper formulated as curbing impulsiveness.

Klastrup, Lisbeth and Susana Tosca 2016. The networked reception of transmedial universes: an experience-centered approach. MedieKultur 60: 107-122.

However, we want to argue that a narrow focus on platforms or the concrete relations between users and particular pratforms could drown researchers in seas of data while cause them to lose track of the core of the media experience. User engagement across platforms is not, in essence, about material platforms but about the kinds of personal or shared experiences users are constructing and re-enacting through them. For example, Game of Thrones fans can use several platforms (Facebook fan websites) for the same kind of phatic exchange in relation to the launch of a new book, and a thorough investigation of each of the platforms would yield superfluous results. In this case, the crucial topic is how this phatic exchange is constructed in relation to the book experience across platforms. (Klastrup & Tosca 2016: 108)
I would argue that the "allowances" of platforms do have a significant influence on user experience, and the phatic aspect varies greatly. For example, Youtube and Facebook comment sections are so disorganized (so linear that you can't make sense of who's responding to whom) that sometimes it's even impossible to find one's own comment to review or edit it. Reddit is probably the best example of a comment section that actually works - every entry has a context and a permanent link, and the possibility of a line of comments becoming a separate, secondary thread. There is a marked qualitative difference between throwing your thoughts into a linear flow of comments, maybe never to be seen again, and appending your thoughts to someone else's, thus creating a sequence of back-and-forths where anyone can interject and, if upvoted, derail or improve the discussion. But that's just my impression. Frankly I'm not even sure if "phatic" is the right term "in relation to the launch of a new book", since these kinds of exchanges have a marked referential core (something particular being talked about). I concede with Alfred Kroeber that "The fundamental thing about culture [is] the way in which men relate themselves to one another by relating themselves to their cultural material" (1948: 68), so that even discussing Game of Thrones can be viewed in a broader sense as a "phatic exchange", but as it stands I think this term ("phatic exchange") itself is soiled by all those treatments that equate it with Jakobson's "entire dialogues with the mere purport of prolonging communication" (1981[1960d]: 24). As a side-note, a few years ago I received an unprecedented spike in traffic to this blog because someone on the Game of Thrones subreddit tried to explain Theon Greyjoy's transformation through torture with a reference to Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985), and linked to some excerpts I re-typed for this blog. If phaticity were understood (in the technical aspect) as channeling, that was a very phatic episode for me.

Duchateau, Béatrice 2016. Hugh MacDiarmid's Poetics of Commitment: the Modern Stigmata of Bereavement. E-rea: Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone 13.2. (Online)

First, the connection between Hugh MacDiarmid’s poetic commitment and reality is made difficult as, in his work, the relationship between poetic language and reality originates in a very uncomfortable and empty room, the 20th century, the century of world-wide wars, and a century full of ghosts. Indeed, MacDiarmid’s poems constantly enact dialogues between the narrator and the figures of dead writers. In A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, MacDiarmid’s 1926 first long poem, the narrator addresses Dostoevsky and Burns, and in In Memoriam James Joyce, his 1955 last epic poem, it is James Joyce who is convoked throughout, revealing his concern with sympathy and the needed contact to absent ones within strongly committed poems, nationalist and communist ones. The significant others are gone and the poetry hankers for an impossible connection to them. The over-developed phatic dimension of the poet's work also appears in early poems of grief such as "At My Father’s Grave" where the narrator addresses his dead father. (Duchateau 2016)
I am unable to say why, but James Joyce and William Shakespeare are first and foremost among what I would haphazardly call "phatic literary studies", as exemplified by Alphonse-Maria Leo Knuth's The Wink of the Word: A Study of James Joyce's Phatic Communication (1976) and Marija-Liudvika Drazdauskienė's "The Phatic Function in the Scenic Composition of Macbeth" (1986). Since I have read nothing from either, I'll just remark that this is so. Instead, I would briefly discuss this post itself (reflexivity, eh?). Most authors I quote on this blog are situated in that "empty room", though I don't see it as uncomfortable - the period between 1950s and 1970s in academic writing is perhaps my favourite. In any case, most authors I quote have long passed. Thus, quoting people who are academically active right now comes with a few hang-ups or possibilities. By quoting and commenting excerpts from 50 papers, I'm effectively addressing 87 people, by name. It's almost like an inchoate dialogue with a sizeable crowd that can barely fit into a single room, were everyone physically present. I wouldn't say that I'm all that concerned with sympathy, because I'm only looking at how you use the term "phatic", but contact is indeed highlighted in some sense, since all of you have the possibility of googling your own name and finding this post, at least for a brief window of time before Google removes it from search results due to copyright infringement (my usage should fall under Fair Use, but Google's algorythm doesn't care and I'm not up to contest it). So, if addressing particular people exemplifies an over-developed phatic dimension, then this post is certainly approaching that state. But then again, this use would conflate phaticity with addressivity, which actually belongs to the conative function, particularly the vocative aspect, which acts like Althusser's interpellation, calling people out by their name. This confusion occurs, I believe, because if phaticity is identified with or attributed to the communication channel, it brings more fundamental technical issues of communication into the forefront. Elsewhere I've tried to construct a technical theory of para- and metachannel that ties in with this discussion. If Colin Cherry (1977[1957]: 91) defined the meta-channel as the channel of observation, then I would define the para-channel as the virtual channel of addressivity. In this sense, when I quote a particular researcher, I'm opening a para-channel (notice the similarity with para-social interaction), and if any one you finds this post, you're opening a meta-channel. The fault with this approach lies in reducing nearly everything to channels, as if life were a series of pipes and tubes, or a metaphorical network of wires.

Schmitt, Arnaud and Stefan Kjerjegaard 2016. Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle: A Real Life in a Novel. AUTO|BIOGRAPHY STUDIES 31(3): 553-579.

In Est-il je? Gasparini, the French expert on autofiction, wonders what the functions of the paratext are. According to Gasparini, the first function is, in Roman Jakobson's terminology, "phatic": "the paratext aims at establishing the first contact between the potential reader and the book" (61). Genette also states that the paratext is "an airlock that helps the reader pass from one world to another, without experiencing any respiratory problems" (375). (Schmitt & Kjerkegaard 2016: 558)
This view suffers from the same metaphoric reduction as the previous discussion pointed out. It formulates something that might not even be explicitly communicative (the cover art, front and back matter, and other materials not crafted by the author) as a sort of channel, or a means of establishing contact. If this understanding of the paratext and my own para-channel were taken seriously, looking around a book-store and, particularly, perusing the list of cited works would become "phatic", even though something other than (interpersonal) contact is dominant. Not only does this step away from Malinowski's etymological meaning of "phatic" as speech, but it even steps away from Jakobson's technical meaning of communicative channel (contact with another person). In this sense, "phatic" gets exceedingly loose, and appended to matters wholly outside of its original anthropolinguistic context. My aim here, I think, is to chart this development away from social intercourse and to map the areas it intrudes into, if only to get a sense of how the underlying assumptions about phaticity transform (or what they are capable of transforming into). That is to say, I don't deny that the cover art of a book, for example, is a metaphorical equivalent of the book saying "Hi!" - but I hold these kinds of uses to be metaphorical, and saying more about the terminological qualities of "phatic" more than anything else.

Pikas, Christina K. 2016. The Role of New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTS) In Information and Communication in Science. A Conceptual Framework and Empirical Study. PhD Dissertation, University of Maryland.

In oral communication and social media, which share many aspects of oral communication, much of the communication is phatic; that is, it is not primarily informational, rather it is used for social purposes such as establishing rapport and maintaining relationships and for purposes related to establishing and maintaining the communication channel (Vetere et al., 2009) or place in the social network (Miller, 2008). (Pikas 2016: 30)
Here I find the imputed connection itself interesting. One sentiment that caught me by some surprise was someone (I forget who) pointing out that humans have communicated orally for hundreds of thousands of years (and even before that, presumably, via vocalizations, as our closest evolutionary relatives still do) but have formulated visual means of recording equivalents of vocal signs only in the past few thousand years (though we don't and maybe cannot know how long the history of writing actually was, since easily malleable artifacts also perish very easily). They pointed this out in order to emphasize that talking is much more powerful and intuitive means of communication than writing, which is a much later development, and far from universal (there are illiterate people, still). In light of all this, it would make sense that whatever novel means of communication we devise, they'll reflect some or other limitation or possibility of oral communication. And as the anthropologist first put forth, besides expressing feeling, directing action and informing of something, this free, aimless, social form of communication is one of the primary functions of language. The problem, perhaps, with all these "metaphorical" developments is that Malinowski's phatic communion has not been properly generalized for non-oral semiotic systems. This is something I feel I have to do myself, once I have a better grasp of C. S. Peirce, for example. Since Peirce subscribes to the same tri-partite division (emotional, energetic, and logical are his preferred variants), it should not be too difficult to formulate sign-use that negates these, much like Malinowski did. I'm not sure when I'll get around to it, but a Peircean interpretation of phatic communion is surely in order.

Brezina, Vaclav 2016. Collocation Networks: Exploring Associations in Discourse. In: Baker, Paul and Jesse Egbert (eds.), Triangulating Methodological Approaches in Corpus Linguistic Research. New York: Routledge, 90-107.

As noted earlier, wh-questions, i.e., questions containing question words such as what, why, who, and how are frequent in the Q+A corpus. Prototypically, wh-questions are used to seek specific information rather than maintain relationships between participants. This is what Jakobson (1960) calls a 'referential' rather than 'phatic' or 'expressive' function of language. (Brezina 2016: 95)
Above I quoted Kenneth Burke (1937), that "The asking of questions is obviously a masterly shortcut for the establishment [of personal union]". This may originate from him quoting Malinowski's illustrations of phatic communion including "inquiries about health" (PC 2.2). It makes sense from everyday experience point of view that during small talk we ask questions, maybe even just clarifying questions (in the sense of "active listening") when we're not actually all that interested in the answer - that we don't seek information by asking questions, but use the question, or even an interrogative "Yeah?" as continuers in the "supportive function" of phatic communion (cf. Fuentes-Rodríguez et al. 2016; above). This reminds me of Carlos Alonso's (2002) editorial column, "Where Were We?", which highlights - well beyond the strangeness felt towards "The stranger who cannot speak the language" (PC 4.2) - the strangeness felt when the conversation comes to an interruption or halt. In a poetic twist that seems true enough (as Peirce said, nothing is truer than true poetry), when unable to recover the thread of conversation, "the "where" in "where were we?" may have become a non-place, and... "Who is this person in front of me, anyway?" (Alonso 2002: 1137). It is better to admit inattention and forgetfulness and ask the innocuous question, "where were we?", than to begin questioning in life itself.

Voicu, Sever J. 2016. Evidence of Authenticity: Severian of Gabala, In ascesionem Domini (CPG 5028). In: Bishop, Richard W.; Jonah Leemans and Hajnalka Tamas (eds.), Preaching after Easter: Mid-Pentecost, Ascension, and Pentecost in Late Antiquity. London: Brill, 407-424.

These "formulae" share two characteristics: 1) they convey little notional information, since they primarily play a communicational (or phatic) role; 2) they are not strictly required by the context of the predication; theoretically they could be omitted or replaced without altering the meaning of the text and/or the information it transmits. Since in any language there is a large set of such expressions, their intentional frequent use shows some personal preference of the author. (Voicu 2016: 409)
Some context is missing since I can't re-type Greek, but this is about formulaic features in homilies, where "very often the audience is addressed by the preacher in various ways, with vocatives [..] or with expressions exhorting them to pay more attention to some development(s)" (ibid, 409). The problem I have with this use is the identification of phatic with "communicational", in actuality (once again) with the conative function. I cannot blame, since it took me a lot of time (I had to read several volumes to see it being applied) to figure out Jakobson's conative function, which "finds its purest grammatical expression in the vocative and imperative" (Jakobson 1960: 355). Thus, vocatives are conative, not phatic; and so are imperatives, i.e. commands ("exhorting them to pay more attention"). In this particular case I'm not discouraging seeking analogies between the phatic and other functions in Jakobson's scheme because I'm very much drawn myself towards so-called "duplex functions" (Jakobson himself spoke of duplex structures when he was constructing his scheme), such as the phatic-emotive, phatic-conative, and even phatic-referential (the latter may appear especially problematic in theory, but in practice we do talk about something when engaging in small talk, it's just that the emphasis is on the phatic, rather than the referential - one is dominating over the other). The really important part here are actually Voicu's two characteristics. The first - though I can't exactly gauge this "notional information" as it doesn't appear anywhere else in the text - appears to point out that the aim is "not to inform" as Malinowski put it; this is fine enough. But the second - not being strictly required by the context of the predication - again I can't make out "the context of predication" and context gives no clue - is interesting in that it seems to say that these exhortations to pay more attention are in a sense superfluous. I've no idea what the Greek illustrations say, but an everyday "Do you know what I mean?" would serve the same, since it's "not strictly required", reflecting rather the speaker's channel-management.

Jørgensen, Kristian Møller 2016. The media go-along: Researching mobilities with media at hand. MedieKultur 60: 32-49.

What is visible on-screen serves also as a resource for me as a researcher. To become present in the media environment hinges on the mutual awareness that we are co-observing what happens on his screen. Such presence is reinforced discursively through the phatic "Uuuh" and "he looked at you three hours ago". Leading up to this situation, it is established that I am a partial insider in this area of his lifeworld. It is in this context that I quite insistently remind him that my gaze dwells on this particularity and that I want him to dwell on it as well. Furthermore, it can be said that I am 'insidering' - that is, maintaining and exercising my insider position. With his apparent acceptance of me into this intimate sphere ("exactly"), the situation stands out as a performed togetherness around co-presence and a shared affective response. In mobility terms, such situations are "practically achieved phenomena of trust, emotion, appreciation" (Urry & Büschler, 2009, p. 110). (Jørgensen 2016: 46)
At first sight this reminds me of Ron Scollon's (1998) Goffman-inspired concept of the watch, i.e. "The spectacle together with its watchers constitute the watch". This "mutual awareness that we are co-observing what happens on [the] screen" is an example of the watch. The concept of "insidering" on the other hand immediately calls to mind the concept of idiomorphization - when imputing human characteristics to animals, you're anthropomorphizing the animal, but when you're imputing your own perspective to another person, you're idiomorphizing the other person. Judith Butler's "positionality" also comes to mind. As to "performed togetherness", I have to ask what's the opposite? What is unperformed togetherness? What makes togetherness performative? Is it an act? Likewise, with "affective" in the shared response - is this emotional response or an intensity towards some emotional response? Besides these terminologial issues, I have little to add, since "the phatic" is here all too simplistic.

Villanueva, Concepción Fernández and Juan Carlos Revilla 2016. "Distant" beings or "human" beings: real images of violence and strategies of implication or distancing from victims. Communication & Society 29(3): 103-118.

These distancing discourses find concordance with an interpersonal attitude of indifference when faced with distant events (Frosh, 2006). The consequences of such distancing is the promotion of a type of moral argument that disconnects and disables any sense of responsibility for the victims. Frosh (2011) called this "phatic" or empty morality, an attitude of distant knowing; a type of attention to the matter at hand that doesn't lead to any emotional connection. Knowing without 'knowing', without acting, without response. Phatic morality, as such, is a barrier to ethical sensitivity and an impediment to proximity. (Villanueva & Revilla 2016: 114)
This formulation of phatic morality makes a lot more sense. But if linguistic functions are carried over to morality in this way, what of conative, referential, metalingual, or - god forbid - poetic/aesthetic morality? You can't take one function of a system and ignore all the others, because you've now introduced that system as a working frame, and the frame doesn't work if it's partial or fragmentary. Moreover, this Jakobsonian equation of "phatic" and "empty" flies in the face of other approaches that conflate the phatic with em-phatic, like the previous quote, for example. In no uncertain terms, this "phatic morality" could just as well be rephrased in positive terms, as a co-present morality that performs togetherness in response to a distant and discursive phenomenon. Less polemically, both pertain to "purposeless expressions of preference or aversion, accounts of irrelevant happenings, comments on what is perfectly obvious" (PC 5.1), yet one draws attention to the fact that the observed phenomenon is perfectly obvious to observers, and the other to the fact that the sufferings of others may come to seem as irrelevant happenings. The trees, bees, and refugees are dying, but we're here just waiting for the bus.

Scott, Ian 2016. Spectacle vs. narrative: action political movies in the new millenium. In: Tzioumakis, Yannis and Claire Molloy (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics. New York: Routledge, 291-301.

Shapiro's answer is to allude to what Elsaesser conceives of as the "phatic aspect of communication" heightened by a recognition that contributes towards an emotional response, at the heart of going to the movies. This emotion is then translated into an "intellectual" calculation that does not need "real" or actual emotion/recognition/cognition to inform it on the screen, but merely "typical drive patterns" that prompt responses and trigger mechanisms of acceptance, understanding and ideological coherence (Elsaesser 2012: 102-3). (Scott 2016: 299)
Elsaesser most definitely did not "conceive" the phatic aspect of communication. In no uncertain terms, he notes that "Roman Jakobson, following Bronislaw Malinowski, spoke of the 'phatic' aspect of communication" (Elsaesser 2015: 256). His own understanding of phaticity seems to equate it with "redundancy and repetition [...] reemployment [and] feedback loops" (ibid, 256). As noted somewhere above, this kind of understanding is inspired by Jakobson's "ritualized formulas" and "entire dialogues with the mere purport of prolonging communicationg", itself inspired by Alan Gardiner's (1932: 45-46) "mechanical utterances of automata", rather than Malinowski's conception of phatic communion, wherein the "comments on what is perfectly obvious" are purposeless and aimless, but by no means mechanical or ritualistic. Much like Genette and the paratext, (Schmitt & Kjerkegaard 2016; above), Elsaesser sees "The introduction" as phatic, as "an integral part of the film and a commentary on the film, thereby making our first contact with the film both immersive and reflexive" (ibid, 256), just like Genette's "airlock that helps the reader pass from one world to another, without experiencing any respiratory problems". In the quote given here, this recognition that contributes to an emotional response may in some sense be comparable to the starting a conversation with a stranger to find out that he can speak your language, which then leads to establish links of fellowship (PC 4.2-5). All this can be only roughtly transposed, because phatic communion occurs between people, while here even "communication" becomes metaphorical, since the topic is film reception. That is not to say that they're not related, as the concept of empathy was transposed from German aesthetic theory, where its exact point was the representation (not to say, communication) of emotion in a way that sparked intuitive and homogeneous emotional response. In this sense, the artist does not "communicate" emotion, but captires it in his artistry in a way that lets you experience it without consciousness of communication (here, intellectual "calculation"). This was pretty much the point of Susanne Langer's (1942) philosophy of art: that art is not a discursive (communicative) form, but a presentational (signifying) form. It is a sad state of affairs that (sensual) presentation and (mental) representation are nod distinguished as they used to be in the 19th century. The whole "crisis of representation" in the humanities can probably be ascribed to people forgetting what the re- in representation stood for. Sometimes scientific jargon is so appealing and attractive that it is used by "loose thinkers" without their original connotations (connotation itself being a good example, denoting the "concept" of a term, instead of "secondary (negative) meanings" as it is used today). "Phatic" in this sense is quite problematic, because the work of art can definitely be viewed as a communication partner, for example in (Juri Lotman's) cybernetic theory of art (where the work of art is viewed as an artificial intelligence), but you can't really converse with a work of art, only experience it (it's a phenomenal object, not a phenomenal subject).
If this one unifying treatise is the real ideological "phatic connection," as Elsaesser has it, for audiences attuned to blockbuster aesthetics, then the subtleties and nuances of narrative political films like The Ides of March (Clooney, 2010), Lincoln (Spielberg, 2012) and television series like House of Cards are not the route to understanding American institutional ideas and philosophy. Political spectacle movies like Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down are the real purveyors of America's twenty-first century cultural politics and discourse on screen. (Scott 2016: 300)
I'm unable to find "phatic connection" in Elsaesser's use, but the concept immediately casts doubt upon itself when used in relation to a work of art. Is this ideological connection like phatic morality? That is (as cited by Villanueva & Revilla 2016; above), marked by "an attitude of distant knowing" or "a type of attention to the matter at hand that doesn't lead to any emotional connection"? Then we once again meet with the paradox of between emotive and phatic, since here phaticity is conceptualized exactly as "a recognition that contributes towards an emotional response". At this point it is safe to say that the emotional aspect of phaticity is most schizoid, and a call for a distinction between hypo- and hyper-phaticity fully justified.

Kaplan, Nora 2016. Social readig in Spain: A discourse-pragmatic perspective. Álabe: Revista de Investigación sobre Lecturas 13.7. (Online)

Many recent studies in sociology of communication have focused on social media. From this perspective, social media practices are regarded as mostly phatic communion, i.e. communication that has no infomational or dialogic purpose, but only social (networking) intentions. This ritualistic aspect of speech behavior first noted by Malinowski (1923), and studied by linguists interested in language as social action (Halliday, 1990; Leech, 1980), is revisited critically by Miller (2008, 2011), who argues that we are moving fast into what he calls "phatic media culture" (Miller, 2011, p. 388). This move is caused by the flattening of social bonds in our networked society and its related flattening of communication towards the non-dialogic and non-informational. This assertion might be argued, however, from the discourse analysis perspective, which regards all communication as dialogic (Martin & White, 2005). (Kaplan 2016)
This generalization seems dubious, if only due to its absoluteness. It's reminiscent of the absoluteness of one Russian author's four-word sentence, "Female communication is phatic." Maybe social media has other functions we have yet to formulate? On the other hand, the non-dialogicity of phatic communion "as social action", or "as a mode of action" (PC 7.1) is interesting, since it's supported by Malinowski's own essay in the "not quite symmetrical" relation between speaker and listener: "the man linguistically active receiving the greater share of social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5), much like on Facebook the person receiving and the person dishing out likes do not receive the same pleasure. In this sense, phatic communion really is like a collective monologue, as Jean Piaget understood it: "The point of view of the other person is never taken into account; his presence serves only as a stimulus".
The predominance of evaluations of affect and appreciation/reaction over those of appreciation/valuation seems to show, as in Zappavigna (2012), that what these virtual communities of social reading practice share is not so much their ideas and thoughts about books and reading, but their feelings and emotional reactions around those ideas. However, this type of interaction goes beyond phatic communication, where there is little informational or dialogic intent (Miller, 2011). This is an emerging type of dialogic communication, where the participants give more priority to creating, cultivating and sustaining relationships than to assessing the aesthetic and functional value of literary works. (Kaplan 2016)
Here the nail is hit right on its head. "A shared affective response", as it was put somewhere above, is not exactly phatic, since it goes beyond mere speech. If the aim is to share or co-create feelings and emotional reactions, it's not exactly free and aimless, is it? On the other hand, the matter is not as simple as that, since "creating, cultivating and sustaining relationships" is the point of phatic communion, though it could be argued if "links of fellowship" (PC 4.5), "the bonds created between hearer and speaker" (PC 5.5), "ties of union" (PC 6.1), "the personal communion of these people" (PC 7.5), and "bonds of personal union between people" (PC 9.1) can or should be read as prolix synonyms for "relationship". After all, people can "congregate, to be together, to enjoy each other's company" (PC 3.2) without a "relationship". It would seem that "creating, cultivating and sustaining relationship" is not is not the priority in phatic communion, while creating "a pleasant atmosphere of polite, social intercourse" (PC 9.4) is. Whether or not a "relationship" is necessary to enjoy each other's company, I'll currently leave open.

Nag, Wenche; Rich Ling and Mona Hovland Jakobsen 2016. Keep out! Join in! Cross-generation communication on the mobile internet in Norway. Journal of Children and Media 10(4): 411-425.

For the grandparents, the online-offline merge appeared to be "on hold" even if portable internet-enabled devices were increasingly common. The teens found that their older interlocutors still approached mediated interaction as conversations, not as a flow of interactions throughout the day that characterize Licoppe's connected presence. Mostly, the mediated communication appeared to be expressively skewed, and grandparents were associated with lengthy phone calls, long wall postings on social media and awkward SMS exchanges. Yet, several teens seemed to prefer to have this interaction as a predominantly phatic communication via tools that allowed low involvement and fleeting attention. (Nag, Ling & Jakobsen 2016: 420)
Personally, I've experienced this same issue in e-mail exchanges, particularly since the format of the e-mail is still burdened with formalities like greetings (Hi! Hello!), and leave-takings (Sincerely, My Name) - all of which seem superfluous since e-mails can be exchanged very rapidly in a "glow of interaction", and exceed the e-mail platform by links to other sites and means of exchange. These formalities feel like a vestiges of snail-mail, particularly post-cards and long-form letters, whereas online you can add something to the conversation very rapidly, and formalities only slow it down and make it more awkward.
Centrifugal forces were also observed in the teens' discussion on the use of narrow reach tools even if these had a fairly strong position in the mediated cross-generation communication. Phone calls were in some cases seen as simple and cosy, but in other cases as onerous and awkward. An assumed casual conversation with grandparents to maintain the social tie could turn into an exhausting exercise if one ran out of topics of mutual interest. However, a phatic text message would keep the channel open without the sometimes forced atmosphere of a phone conversation where the combination of affordances and social norms say that both parties should be actively engaged. With SMS, the teens could control the pace of the messages and they had time to consider the themes to be covered in the exchange. The instrumentally skewed, narrow reach communication with parents came across as less problematic to the teens. The tools enabled them to carry on with their emancipation project, but with their closest guardians within reach should the need arise. (Nag, Ling & Jakobsen 2016: 422)
This is the exact situation I described somewhere above in relation to the "Where Were We?" - aside from inattentively forgetting what was talked about, sometimes the subjects of discussion simply run out, especially if your conversation partner starts exhibiting signs of misunderstanding or not being able to relate to your interests. Phatic communion should be free and aimless, not "an exhausting exercise". There is indeed a level of disengagement in phatic communion. Even Malinowski notes that while the bonds "are not quite symmetrical", it is still "quite essential" to be heard, at least, and a need for reciprocity "established by the change of roles" (PC 5.6). The situation of teens and parents makes intuitive sense, but these aspects seem to require more elucidation; theoretical conjecture from my part alone is not sufficient.

Rogerson, Melissa J. and Martin Gibbs 2016. Finding Time for Tabletop: Board Game Play and Parenting. Games and Culture 00: 1-21.

Participants' opinions on the relationship between early exposure to high-quality board games and ongoing engagement with board gaming as a hobby were mixed. On the other hand, building a shared hobby may strengthen ongoing parent-child relationships and ultimately develop the "built-in player" of our interviewee's board game utopia, framing a new adult relationship; on the other, those children may exercise their power of veto and refuse to play board games with their parents. "Are they gamers, yes. But their game of choices are video games, for the most part" (P6). One of our participants described her daughter's refusal to play games as a teenage rebellion and concluded that, "Lining that up against possible options of sex, drugs and rock n roll, I'm kind of OK with that" (P3). Research into intergenerational play between grandparents and grandchildren has found that it is focused strongly on phatic exchanges (Vetere, Davis, Gibbs, Francis, & Howard, 2006, p. 1476): Play has a strong role in strengthening social bonds and building relationships (Osmanovic & Pecchioni, 2016). Although parents hope that playing board games with their young children might produce a long-term board gaming opponent, in practice, it seems that the pleasures of playing games with children should be enjoyed for what they are - a shared social experience - without an expectation of future return. (Rogerson & Gibbs 2016: 11)
One mechanism of this strengthening is obvious enough: it creates mutual interests, allowing more subjects to be discussed even while not engaged in the hobby at the moment. On the other hand, I am a little weary of Vetere et al.'s conclusion, since they offer a demo of phatic technology and conclude very instrumentally that intergenerational communication is about phatic exchanges. On yet another hand, play can indeed strengthen social bonds and build relationships, if only because phatic communion itself is a sort of play, a linguo-ludic experience, so to say. That is, small talk is a sort of social game, played with "purposeless expressions of preference or aversion, accounts of irrelevant happenings, comments on what is perfectly obvious" (PC 5.1). And although it can be consummated "by the breaking of bread and the communion of food" (PC 4.5), mostly it proceeds "without an expectation of future return", as the "atmosphere of sociability" (PC 7.5) is an end in itself (exactly what Malinowski means by language as a mode of action).

Smart, Cameron 2016. Discourse Reflexivity in Linear Unit Grammar: The case of IMDb message boards. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Additionally, there is some evidence in the IMDb corpus data that the use of |oi (initial) LOL in M linear units with an inter-turn orientation is also motivated by phatic considerations rather than simply as a means of expressing humour. As indicated in previous studies (Tagliamonte & Denis 2008; Baron 2009), despite the fact that this is a relatively new addition to the language, the literal discourse reflexive meaning of LOL has already been superseded by a pragmaticalized function or, in other words, it has undergone 'pragmatic re-orientation' (Butler 2008). In this connection, Baron refers to LOL in instant messaging, not as an expression of humour but rather as 'a phatic marker'. This type of phatic use of LOL can be seen in the IMDb corpus data. (Smart 2016: 153)
With the broadness of definition demonstrable in this post alone, it remains undefinable what these "phatic considerations" could be. Is it to create interpersonal bonds? To express shared emotions? To keep the channel open? Or what? Likewise, I tried to trace this "pragmaticalization", since it would be nice to know what it means in case I attempt a pragmatic interpretation of phatic communion - after all, Malinowski's phatic communion is sometimes touted as a pragmatic approach to language (as a mode of action), and "phatic markers" sometimes become interchangeable with "pragmatic markers" (Rusu 2016, above, refers to "phatic pragmatic functions"). But Butler cites Callies' "The grammaticalization and pragmaticalization of cleft constructions in present-day English" (2012), and I cannot get at it to look up what exactly the term signifies. Corpus linguistics sure is massive.

Šustáčková, Vĕra 2016. Personal Advertisements as Text Colonies: Features and Types of Colonies. Discourse and Interaction 9/1/2016: 65-77.

The third variant is present when the role of the mainstream text is not referential but interpersonal, aiming at emotional and phatic meanings.
I would describe myself as fun and outgoing with a good sense of humour, though if I didn't describe myself like that, it would probably be a cause for concern!!! I can also be described as S-exy I-ntelligent N-ice G-enerous L-oving E-xciting.
The mainstream text here has a psychological rather than an informative character, i.e. it draws on word play, humour, and emotions and thus is supposed to appeal to a certain type of reader. (Šustáčková 2016: 73)
This conflation actually resolves the distinction between emotive and phatic by relegating both under the interpersonal function (Halliday) or interactional function (Brown & Yule), though it looks like "interpersonal" is merely the replacement for "linguistic", since it other functions as well (I'm not certain because I haven't read Halliday yet). But "phatic meanings" once again demonstrates, like Borio's (above) "phatic signs", that you can make the adjective phatic descriptive of almost anything (even absurd things, like Stenström's phatic microphone, wherein "phatic" becomes synonymous with "unnoticed"). It remans an object of speculation what "phatic meanings" could be read from the linguistic material here given. Is phatic meaning something like the self-assessment of personal communication style? Who knows.

Chevalier, Alida 2016. Globalisation versus internal development: the reverse short front vowel shift in South African English. PhD thesis, University of Cape Town.

Trudgill (2004, 27) posits two reasons for his deterministic approach to new-dialect formation: (1) the need to 'talk like others talk' (Keller 1994), similar to Jakobson's (1971) phatic function, which is the desire to conform to social norms; and (2) crucially, accommodation. (Chevalier 2016: 38)
That is so not what the phatic function is. It might be possible that this author is confusing Jakobson's phatic fuction with J. L. Austin's phatic act, i.e. "the uttering of certain vocables or words, i.e. noises of certain types, belonging to and as belonging to, conforming to and as conforming to a certain grammar" (Austin 1955: 95). But even then, the phatic act means conforming to a certain grammar, not social norms, and conforming to an already established grammar doesn't really support new-dialect formation. Still, let's follow out the possibility of it being so, since the suggestion itself has some merit. When you soften Malinowski's claim that "The stranger who cannot speak the language is to all savage tribesmen a natural enemy" (PC 4.2), you can arrive at the stranger who doesn't speak your dialect or doesn't conform to local norms remains distant. Linguistic adjustment is also a factor in reciprocity - in everyday interaction, people frequently and naturally take over each other's words, phrases and utterances, immediately as a turn-taking device and proximally as a way of language-learning. And if one of the aims of phatic communion is an "affirmation and consent" (PC 5.3), then mirroring your interlocutors verbiage is a way to achieve that. But I have a feeling that here I'm conflating the desire to conform to social norms with accommodation.

Nikpour, Tahereh 2016. The Effect of Using Android-based and IOS-based Mobile Computers on Social Interactions of 18 to 29 Year Old Youth of Tehran. International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies 3(1): 1982-1996.

Phatic communication is also a communicative process happening through different words or symbols without a specific meaning (content) being transferred. In this communicational process only the emotional states are transferred and they create social solidarity and common mental preparation. This concept was firstly used by Malinowski; as a reason for using this concept Maliowski has written down that: in primitive societies, language is considered as a link in human activities and it is considered as a part of human behaviour. In such societies language is a method of act and not a tool for thought. Clearly, in this case we are dealing with a specific type of language and its use which is called phatic communication; it is a kind of communication in which the bonds of unity are only created through exchange of words. Is it true that firstly the words are used for conveying a symbolic meaning? Of course not; they have a social application and the aim is its desirable achievement. But the words are neither the result of rational thinking nor creating a thought in the audience. Again it must be said that here (primitive societies) language does not work as a tool for transferring thought (as we look at it). (Nikpour 2016: 1986)
This one is commendable for paraphrasing Malinowski's text directly. I find it commendable because my own aim is to, at some point, paraphrase the whole of his three pages on phatic communion, in order to replace the archaic English (philosophical) jargon with more modern and easily understandable formulations. Part of the problem why so many seem to ignore Malinowski or take only bits and pieces of his treatments (instead of the whole), I think, is it's all too complex and essayistic form. But I'm not trigger-happy to do so, since I need to first understand him (and his sources, of which no-one speaks since they're undiscovered - Herbert Spencer being my own first, and hopefully not the last, discovery) completely. For example, in the part about "the meaning which [belongs] symbolically [to words]" (PC 6.3) and "transmission of thought" (PC 6.5), I have an inkling that this is actually a reference to Ogden and Richards' discussion of symbols in the rest of the book, particularly with regard to "forms of symbolic convention" (pp. 29), "the symbolic use of words" (pp. 42), "non-symbolic structural elements of symbols" (pp. 88), etc. - lest we forget that Ogden and Richards drew on Peirce and had a pretty complex theory of how words come to have (or lack, for that matter) a meaning that is "symbolically theirs". So I would currently leave a question-mark aboe "a specific meaning", and inquire into the specificity of that meaning when I return to Ogden and Richards with more care and attention. As to the second point about emotional states, this is markedly non-Malinowskian, as he doesn't even use the word "emotion". On the other hand, it is avowedly La Barrean, perhaps accidentally so, since the point of Weston La Barre's (1954) conception of phatic communication is exactly what is put forth here, although in slightly modified form. Thus, instead of "emotional states", La Barre says "an individual animal's state of mind"; instead of "social solidarity" he says "a generalized emotional tone throughout the band"; and instead of "common mental preparation" he says "the same attitude toward a situation", which "binds the group to biologically useful common action" (La Barre 1954: 57). But La Barre's uniqueness is generalizing phatic communion from the human animal to our closest evolutionary relatives, and even other mammals, point blank. Thus, in the third instance, phatic communion is not language-use as a mode of action "in such societies" alone, as Malinowski goes to explain that "though the examples discussed were taken from savage life, we would find among ourselves exact parallels to every type of linguistic use so far discussed" (PC 8.1), and that he chose examples from primitive peoples "because [he] wanted to emphasize that such and no other is the nature of primitive speech" (PC 8.3).
Nowadays this kind of communication is a communication in which symbols result in transferring the mental proparations and correlation. According to CF Hockett, a tremendous part of communication happens through art and especially music. W Breed aso talks about the phatic communications in mass communication (Tiba et al., 2009). (Nikpour 2016: 1986)
This is probably a reference to Warren Breed's "Mass Communication and Socio-Cultural Integration "(1958), where he elucidates similarities "between mass communication and personal communication" and points out that Malinowski's phatic communion "can thus also be found in formal mass communication" (1958: 116). But even in this, Breed is a few years late to the party, as La Barre once again anticipated this transferral, pointing out in more than one instance that "much, if not most, of the language of lovers, advertising, political argument, philosophy, theology, and (as with the gibbons) the diplomatic démarche has no necessary relationship to objective realities outside the speakers but only to emotional states within them" (La Barre 1954: 58). I'm currently at the beginning of writing a paper about La Barre's unique take on phatic communication, and considered titling it "Antithetical and Anticipative: Weston La Barre's Phatic Communication", since he simultaneously directly opposes Malinowski's version of phatic communion and anticipates so many later generalizations and transferrals of phatic communion to areas other than mere free, aimless, social intercourse.

Carus, A.W. 2016. The utility of constructed languages. History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences. (Online)

We can now also, in these terms of constructedness, express the trade-off between the kinds of expressive power available to evolved and constructed languages a little more precisely. For the two endpoints of the scale of constructedness correspond also to two different modes of communicative behavior, between which there are many gradations. Borrowing a term from Malinowski (1923), we can label the behavior corresponding to the less constructed end "phatic" communication, while at the more constructed end we have "literal" communication. Phatic communication need not even use language as a vehicle, though it often does. When it does, the literal, computational aspect of the language is far in the background; the burden of the intended communication is carried by an affective dramatization of which the words are a subordinate, almost arbitrary, part. The speaker may be using words, but the purpose is not to convey literal semantic meaning; it is to threaten, for instance, or to ingratiate, or flirt. Language certainly has "meaning," in phatic communication, but the meaning is not the literal, semantic content of the speech, it is the meaning conveyed by the overall performance of which speech is a subordinate part. The words hardly matter. (Carus 2016)
Another commendably insightful instance. The opposition between "phatic" and "literal" was anticipated by half a century by the semanticist, Uriel Weinreich, who employed Edward Sapir's metaphor of the elevator and its doorbell, opposing the "excessively casual or ceremonial speech" of phatic communion to the literal use of "language under conditions of its full-fledged utilization" (Weinreich 1963: 117-118). Even the point that in phatic communication "words are a subordinate, almost arbitrary, part" is reflected in Weinreich's converse argument that the "full-fledged utilization" of language can be found "under conditions where no behavior but language would fill the bill" (ibid, 117-118). The part about "affective dramatization" once again leads me to quote La Barre, particularly due to the key-word, "burden". Namely, La Barre held that "constant association [...] can commonly carry the burden of much new phatic context" (La Barre 1954: 168), implying that relationships are underlined by emotional baggage, since every relationship becomes, in its development, "more and more burdened by common memory of specific contexts, more and more colored by individual personal idiosyncracy, and richer and richer in private emotional connotation" (La Barre 1954: 168-169). Furthermore, he generalizes this to the highest levels of communication, i.e. cultural communication, by stating that "culture is in part a means that people have of sharing one another's emotional burdens" (La Barre 1954: 244-246). As to "The words hardly matter", this is what I think, at least in part, Malinowski meant to say when he asked rhetorically, "Are words in Phatic Communion used primarily to convey meaning, the meaning which is symbolically theirs?" and answered, "Certainly not!" (PC 6.3).
Most language use, most of the time, is undoubtedly phatic. Certainly this is true in ordinary language; more constructed languages would appear to leave less leeway for phatic employment; presumably the more constructed, the less phatic. In ordinary language, though, the phatic and the literal components of language are subjectively co-present, much of the time, and inherently difficult to distinguish. Phenomenologically, the literal and phatic dimensions, together with all the affective associations and other connotations of words and usages, blend seamlessly together into a familiar toolkit of das Zuhandene used to negotiate one’s physical and social surroundings. This is the "user interface" of language, this is how it comes across to its speakers and listeners. This cultural front end acts as a user interface for the (largely) self-enforcing syntactic and computational system of literal meaning-conveyance. How do these components interact? From an evolutionary viewpoint, the cultural, subjective component was there first (Donald 1991, Burling 2005, Tomasello 1999), but does that make the literal, computational part a "mere superstructure" of the cultural part? Or is the computational part autonomous to some degree? These are fundamental questions — not to be addressed here! — and again, one of the motivations of suggesting that we talk in terms of degrees of constructedness is to make it possible to ask them. Without such an apparatus, and the associated complications concerning enforcement, an answer is presupposed, and the question can’t be asked. (Carus 2016)
Again, La Barre writes that "it is no easy cynicism but a sober statement of fact, that a quite surprising amount of human communication remains strictly phatic, for all its employment of articulate words" (La Barre 1954: 58). The variety demonstrated among the studies quoted here and elsewhere on this blog demonstrate more and more uses of language that can be considered phatic, not to mention all the nonverbal systems of signs and communication that can be shown to contain a phatic dimension. It seems safe to say that phaticity pervades nearly all human communication, and possible even non-human forms of communication. How the phatic and literal uses of language blend together and provide a toolkit for negotiating physical and social surroundings could very well read as the heading of this whole undertaking. There is a case to be made for phatic communication being the primary means of social adjustment and integration, though presently this is most often expressed in various glue-and-lubricate metaphors (discussed somewhere above). In any case, considering phatic communication not as a stand-alone (as a mere subcode or god forbid, layer of meaningless linguistic markers) but in tandem with the rest of language and other means of communication is highly commendable.

Mannheimer, Katherine 2016. Poetic Style and the Mind-Body Problem: Sound and Sense, Flesh and Spirit in the Work of John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester. English Literary History 83(2): 489-516.

Previous scholarship has not altogether ignored the extent to which Rochester approaches the mind-body problem through language. When critics do take notice of this connection, however, they generally divide into two schools of thought. One of these sees Rochester's verbal practices as reinforcing materialist beliefs. Thus insofar as Rochester's poems seem to insist we are nothing but bodies, his "relentless obscenity" - the "violence of his style" - would seem likewise to suggest that poetry's most important task (perhaps the only one it is actually capable of) is to "induc[e] [an] immediacy of experience" in the reader - to evoke "man's inescapable animal nature." At these moments, "human sense and meaning [are] betray[ed] [...] to mere grunting phatic gesture." As Kramnick puts it, Rockester's "coarsen[ed] [...] language" (by which he means both the poet's impolite diction but also his often-"dissonant" use of sound) may serve as "an attempt to realize the physicality of causation" - to reaffirm, in miniature, the world's mechanistic workings. (Mannheimer 2016: 492)
Yet again, La Barre anticipated this evocation of "man's inescapable animal nature" in his The Human Animal by drawing an explicit analogy between the vocalizations of other primates and human use of language, such as the mmmmmm that expresses a state of satisfaction or well-being (in analogy with our linguistic "OK") and hmmm expressive of non-committal attention. For all our complex, articulate language, these vocalizations communicate as intuitively between primates as they do between us. Not to get too much ahead of myself, but a cursory interpretation of the lack of "meaning which is symbolically theirs" in the words we use in phatic communion may be explained by Maliowski merely divving up the "emotive" functions that Ogden and Richards grouped together, and treating the use of language in social communion (Spencer's term) as a 'non-symbolic' influence" (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 10). Thus, these authors write that "When we speak, the symbolism we employ is caused partly by the reference we are making", i.e. the thought we wish to transmit, "and partly by social and psychological factors - the purpose for which we are making the reference" (ibid, 10-11), this purpose sometimes being divorced from wanting to communicate information, instead desiring to communicate for the sake of communication. That may be why the meaning of words in phatic communion is not "symbolically theirs". Though, this may be all too simple of an explanation, and passing from symbolic use to emotive use, when words "no longer act as signs but as sounds" (ibid, 42) may turn out to be a more powerful explanatory device, supported by early commentators as well as one major influence for Malinowski, E. B. Tylor, who discusses "the working of another sort of signs, namely, the sounds of the human voice in language" (Tylor 1881: 120).

Shepley, Nick 2016. Henry Green: Class, Style, and the Everyday. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Although the 'proper sentiments' are expressed, there is no place for individual or unique expression of sentiment. These are ritualized platitudes, phatic litanies distinctive in their repeatability and thoughtless reproducibility, which can be recited 'separately or in chorus'; they are the conversational equivalent of the fairy-tale opening, the comforting mantras of grief responses. As such, the empty words fill the discomforting silence, until, with nothing resolved, everyone 'went on with what they had been doing'. (Shepley 2016: 17)
I think I've treated this here by proxy, but one of the most distinctive differences between the phaticity of Malinowski and that of Jakobson is exactly this ritualization. In Malinowski's original supplement, the "ritual handling of words" is just one of "the essential primitive uses of speech", also including speech-in-action and the narrative. Now, I can be forgiving to someone reading Malinowski and accidentally conflating the ritual handling of words with phatic communion, since Malinowski's essayistic style does not distinguish these uses of speech with separate headings, it all sort of flows into one, and the readers must palp the contours of one use in contrast to another themselves. So, accidents can happen. But what I object vehemently to is Jakobson's outright conflation of them, as in "a profuse exchange of ritualized formulas" (Jakobson 1981[1960d]: 24). No-where does Malinowski say that the exchange of the "formulae of greeting or approach" (PC 2.4) must be profuse. In fact, this is just one example of phatic communion, others including "Inquiries about health, comments on weather, affirmations of some supremely obvious state of things" (PC 2.2), "personal accounts of the speaker's views and life history" (PC 5.4), etc. So, nowhere in the original is there a tenet that phatic communication must be characterized by this "repeatability and thoughtless reproducibility". It would rather seem that a lot of our small talk is markedly non-reproducible, stemming from the circumstances of the moment, such as the general mood, who we're talking to, what's going on around us, how much we wish to share about ourselves at the time, etc. While personal experience does attest to some of it being repeatable, such as one telling an interesting story of the day to several people in succession, but here a chasm appears between reproducibility and cliché.
But this ostensibly phatic protest does more than fill in time and aural space; it is not, by means of its chlichéd status, simply voided of all 'heuristic and semantic pitch'. In fact, the clichés resonate with a particular heuristic density when looked at as part of a contextual accumulation of John's (and Liz's) unspoken fears. Throughout this opening chapter, John is continually seeking reassurance from Liz that he hasn't behaved indecentry in acting out a marriage with this vulnerable young girl. (Shepley 2016: 155)
This is pretty much the sentiment of Hugh Rank (1984), who extends "A Few Good Words for Clichés". First and foremost quality of these "trite, worn-out expressions" is that "they sometimes describe a situation accurately" (Rank 1984: 45). So there is some merit to cliché's on the face of it. Where I see a positive contribution here is this "contextual accumulation of [...] unspoken fears", which seems to be the exact stuff of La Barre's "emotional burdens". To phrase it in a roundabout way, when we learn to know a person, we also learn about their fears and anxieties, their emotional baggage and hang-ups, their soft spots and "triggers". Stereotyped phraseology may be a means to deal with that.
The ritual of social convention and the reliance upon insubstantial cliché, particularly at times of emotional intensity, momentarily highlight the unspoken; where the phatic lubrication of a cliché is relied upon to articulate a silence. There are many such moments of intensity in Nothing and Doting, as in Caught and Back, when the coversation avoids direct confrontation of an issue by smattering cliché around the edges. The issue itself is judged too tender to broach head-on; it is never articulated. Instead it is suggested, insinuated, and hinted at until it begins to gain an indistinct outlining shape. We see this in the dealings of Liz Jennings and Richard Abbott. Richard is the most eager to avoid confrontation and consequently relies heavily on cliché to avoid it; Liz counters this with an oblique, cliché-ridden approach herself, opening Richards' eyes to the complexity of the situation. (Shepley 2016: 156)
That is, the insubstantial cliché is used to get over or overcome the emotional spiral, perhaps due to humour of an absurdly inapplicable cliché or the deepness of a truism or parallelism. Don't fret, just like the sun rises from the east, you will come out of this stronger.

Andrews, Richard 2016. A Prosody of Free Verse: Explorations in Rhythm. New York: Routledge.

At the centre of debates about oral free verse as opposed to written free verse is the question of the distinction between speech and writing. Barthes in 'Free Speech to Writing' (1985: 4ff) identifies a number of differences between speech and writing. Speech is immediate, 'spun out', social, phatic, physical (in that it is embodied) and a means of maintaining social engagement. Writing is distant, more concise and argumentational. Ideas are put in the foreground and developed; there is no interference from the body. Because writing is one step removed from speech (according to Vygotski, a 'second-order symbolic system'), its abstractness lends itself to the considered formulation of thought. It is 'dialogic' in an abstract, quasi-dialectic sense rather than dialogic in a conversational sense. The relationship between the speaker and listener is closer than that of the writer to reader. (Andrews 2016: 52)
Not only is the relationship closer, the bodies are closer. After all, the original conception of phatic communion set the context of situation in bodily terms: "When a number of people sit together at a village fire, after all the daily tasks are over, or when they chat, resting from work, or when they accompany some mere manual work by gossip quite unconnected with what they are doing" (PC 1.2). Silence is not a problem to be overcome, lest people are physically close (enough to speak, i.e. in Edward Hall's "social space") and provide psychological "interference" to each other, such as inadequate space, behavioral restrictions, excessive or unwanted social stimulation, etc. (e.g. Schopler & Stockdale 1977: 82).

Gushin, Vadim I; Anna K. Yusupova, Dmitry M. Shved, Lilia V. Shueva, Alla G. Vinokhodova and Yuri A. Bubeev 2016. The evolution of methodological approaches to the psychological analysis of the crew communications with Mission Control Center. REACH - Reviews in Human Space Exploration 1: 74-83.

To analyze the Commander Reports sent to MCC through the computer network in HUBES-94 and ECOPSY-95 the same parameters as for audio talks were used: the number of topics being discussed; the proportion of "working" topics in the general thematic structure of correspondence; the number of negative statements; the reports' length. Moreover, for the first time we detected in Crew Commanders' reports the additional content parameters, identified on the basis of B. F. Lomov' concept concerning the target function of a statement (complete thought). Thus all statements were divided into imperative (containing request or suggestion), phatic (aimed at establishing contact) and emotive (expressing an emotional state). The content analysis of the Reports was made by experts' assessment. (Gushin et al. 2016: 76)
Like I mentioned above, the Russians seem to have a more robust understanding of Jakobson's phatic functions (the imperative is here clearly understood), almost to a fault, as when they repeat Gardiner's formulation via Jakobson word-for-word ("establishing contact"). I highlight, instead, the "target function" since this is not completely missing from phatic communion and surrounding discourse. For example, Ogden and Richards's statement that "When we speak, the symbolism we employ is caused partly by the reference we are making" does not completely lose its value in phatic communion, since being heard, and presumably, let to finish one's thought, "is quite essential for [the] pleasure" (PC 5.6) of phatic communion.

Vicoria, Molea 2016. A new cyberspace form of communication achieved through written and oral means. Austrian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 16(3): 49-53.

E. Ungureanu also notes that this type of online communication (found in chat rooms, discussion pages, blog comments, websites, chat-groups, web portals, twitter etc.) "is achieved both through writing and reading". It is produced based on the classic face-to-face model, only without the visual and auditory contact, which are important elements in a spoken conversation, and the spoken text is delivered in writing. Amza R. M. describes the phenomenon in the following way: "Online or chat communication is a form of interaction very similar to phatic communication, the difference being that there is no visual or auditory contact". Thus, the core issue in chat communication is the lack of a mechanism that would convey emotions, feelings and attitudes, i.e. the lack of nonverbal and para-verbal aspects in communication. Therefore, the users of this type of communication create different graphic representations, icons, the so-called emoticons to express the emotional impact of written online conversation. A face-to-face "meeting" produced through writing results in a partial renewal of the written code. (Vicoria 2016: 50)
One of the primary take-aways from all this should be the inadequacy of applying the concept of phatic communication on computer-mediated forms of communication. The concept was coined only with the face-to-face model in mind, and although Jakobson generalized it for telephony, it also lost most, if not all, of its defining characteristics in the process. Instead of transferring the term willy-nilly, I think we need to re-formulate the whole basis for treating phaticity in social media, for example. When communicating via digital screens, different mechanisms of social pressure and pleasure are operative. While some have already attempted to draw emoticons into this discussion as a pertinent illustration (e.g. Schandorf 2012; Radovanovic & Ragnedda 2012; Faucher 2013, and many others), I don't think tiny images of faces go far enough. Computers make our means of communication virtually limitless, and we're barely scratching the surface in how to even conceptualize it. The most promising line currently available seems to be Vincent Miller's (2008; 2015) infinitely broad conception of phatic media culture, which should be subjected to further scrutiny and elaboration, no doubt, but holds promise to integrate many of as-of-yet unconnected strands of knowledge. I'm hopeful in that regard.


This post (and possible subsequent post like it) will hopefully serve to demonstrate the wide variety of uses to with the term "phatic" is put. There are some very obvious terminological and conceptual issues involved with phaticity, taken as a whole, and ratifying or amending those issues is the primary goal of my undertaking. The aim really is to synthesize all the available uses and construct a general theory of phaticity. If anything, I hope to see the term used more widely and more accurately, and anyone perusing these quotes and comments should be able to construct a more elaborate formulation of phaticity on their own. It also serves as a kind of public warning: if you use the term, "phatic", someone (me) is going to scrutinize it and take your passing remarks very seriously.

While I have published (at the time of writing this) nothing on the matter, I do hope to reach a "breaking point" in my understanding and overview, and pour out a torrent of papers dealing with various aspects of the subject matter. As I see it, the increasing broadness and frequency of its use might be enough to start considering establishing an inter- or transdisciplinary field or research orientation called "phatic studies". To this end, if anyone is more keenly interested in the subject and possible collaboration, my e-mail can be found in the side-bar. Take care!