Digital Interactions in Social Spaces

Digital Interactions in Social Spaces:
Proxemics, Digital Media, and Human-Machine Communication

Special Issue for the Electronic Journal of Communication

Fifty years ago, Edward T. Hall coined the term “proxemics” to describe the human use of space in physical and interpersonal environments. Now, in an age of dynamic and ever-present digital communication, the cultural implications of proxemics are changing. Social media sites offer online gathering spaces for group engagement. Sentient objects in the Internet of Things connect our physical environments with our digital archives. Computer interfaces interpret human spatial behaviors. And, mobile devices track, alter, and orient us in the spaces we inhabit. As culture changes, so change the rules and norms of proxemics.

Over the last decade, investigations at the intersection of space and social, mobile, digital, and participatory media have yielded a growing conversation about human communication and the spaces we inhabit. This has reinvigorated our conceptions about the ways humans and machines interact in the spatial environment. This special issue will focus on intersections between proxemics and the rhetorical and communicative impacts of digital, social, mobile, and participatory technologies. All methodological frameworks and theoretical lenses grounded in communication studies are welcomed. Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:

  • Online gathering spaces
  • Communication patterns in virtual and/or augmented reality spaces
  • Machines as digital interlocutors in human environments
  • Communication impacts of “smart” objects embedded in inhabited spaces
  • User perceptions of mobile devices and smart objects
  • Privacy as a function of human-machine interactions within shared environments
  • Analyses of digital/augmented/virtual spaces and their impact on communication
  • Impacts of social media on interpersonal distance and co-present others
  • Mobile media and the inhabiting of two places at once
  • The rhetoric of social and mobile media
  • Surveillance as a function of embedded cameras in inhabited spaces
  • Communication practices in location, navigation, and wayfinding
  • Proxemics revisited for a digital age
  • Ethics of embedding digital devices in physical spaces

Deadline: Submit manuscripts through EJC’s online submission system at by July 15, 2019, for consideration. Please be sure to submit to the journal section entitled Special Issue: Digital Interactions in Social Spaces: Proxemics, Digital Media, and Human-Machine Communication

Format: Papers should be prepared in APA 6th Ed. Style. Remove all author-identifying information from the main manuscript for blind review. Manuscripts should be single spaced with tables/figures inserted where they belong; double-space between headings, subheadings, and adjacent sections; avoid breaking tables across pages. Please send manuscripts in .doc, .docx, or .rtf formats (not HTML).

Questions: Please address any questions to the Special Issue Editor, Dr. John A. McArthur, Furman University, email:

John A. McArthur, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication Studies,  Furman University
864.660.3585 | |  @JAMcArthur

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