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Emotion work via digital visual communication: A comparative study between China and Japan

Wang, X; Haapio-Kirk, L; (2021) Emotion work via digital visual communication: A comparative study between China and Japan. Global Media and China , 6 (3) pp. 325-344. 10.1177/20594364211008044. Green open access

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Abstract

Through the smartphone, the production and circulation of digital visual media have become as costless and accessible as audio and text-based communication. It would be challenging to be a contemporary ethnographer without engaging with digital practices which in Japan and China at least, tend towards being highly visual. Digital visual communication is recognised in literature as an effective and accessible form of communication, with an increasing number of studies in the field of digital anthropology, media studies and Internet studies exploring the consequences of digital images on social media. There is a pressing need to understand local forms of visual communication in the digital age, where the visual has become an essential part of daily communication. This article deals particularly with the rise of visual digital communication among older adults in China and Japan. Drawing on 16-month ethnographies conducted simultaneously between 2018 and 2019 in China and Japan, this article contributes to the discussion of visual communication in light of this semiotic shift happening online, which is then contextualised within people’s offline lives. The ethnographies in both China and Japan find that, first of all, visual communication via digital media enables more effective and efficient phatic communication and emotion work. In addition, the ethnographies point to a question about ‘authenticity’ in interpersonal communication. The ethnographies show that in some cases, the deployment of visual communication via the smartphone is not so much about being able to express ‘authentic’ personal feelings but rather, in being able to effectively establish a digital public façade according to social norms.

Type: Article
Title: Emotion work via digital visual communication: A comparative study between China and Japan
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/20594364211008044
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F20594364211008044
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 by SAGE Publications Ltd. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).
Keywords: China, communication theory, emotion work, Japan, older people, smartphones, social media, visual communication
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10143766
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