RoboDoc: Semiotic resources for achieving face-to-screenface formation with a telepresence robot

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Face-to-face interaction is a primordial site for human activity and intersubjectivity. Empirical studies have shown how people reflexively exhibit a face orientation and work to establish a formation in which everyone is facing each other in local participation frameworks. The Face has also been described by, e.g., Levinas as the basis for a first ethical philosophy. Humans have established these Face-formations when interacting since time immemorial, but what happens when one of the participants is present through a telepresence robot? Based on ethnomethodology, Peircean/Goodwinian semiotics, multimodal conversation analysis and video data from a Danish residential rehabilitation center, the article shows the ways in which participants manage to interactively, cooperatively, and moment by moment achieve an F-formation in situ. The article contributes a detailed analysis and discussion of the kind of participant a telepresence robot is, in and through situated interactions: I propose that we term this participant the RoboDoc, given that it is an assemblage of a doctor who controls a robot. By focusing on the affordances of mobility, the article contributes to a renewed understanding of the importance and relevance of establishing Face-orientations in an increasingly technofied telepresence world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSemiotica
Volume2021
Issue number238
Pages (from-to)253-278
ISSN0037-1998
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 255997838