Co‐Present Conversation as “Socialized Trance”: Talk, Involvement Obligations, and Smart‐Phone Disruption

Michael WALSH, Shannon CLARK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In an era where digital and co‐present involvements become entangled, the role of face‐to‐face conversation now vies with mediated communication. Applying insights provided by Erving Goffman, we explore conversational interaction and consider how engrossing face‐to‐face conversation can be understood as a form of socialized trance. We explore how this interaction represents one type of “involvement obligation” that can become disrupted and, increasingly, uniquely impacted by mediated involvements that are enabled through mobile and “smart” devices. The crux of the argument is considered in the context of a burgeoning digital era where conversation is found to become meshed together in uneven ways with mediated interaction. We highlight the efficacy of Goffman's approach with regards to the current information environment, providing insights into how engrossing conversation and its involvement obligations are impacted by mediated interactions and how breaches of conduct are experienced. A video abstract is available at
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-26
Number of pages21
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


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