InTouch: Digital Touch Communication

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Speaker: Prof. Carey Jewitt, UCL Knowledge Lab, University College London, UK

When: Friday, 30th April 2021 12:00-1.30pm GMT

Where: Online – Register for the event at and you’ll be sent a link to attend the talk


Touch is at the vanguard of advanced digital communication: technologies are being designed to digitally re-mediate touch in ways that simulate, stretch, and/or reconfigure touch sensations, resources, and practices. As these touch technologies enter the everyday their take-up will shape what ‘counts’ as touch, who and what we touch, and how we touch. In this talk I explore the significance of this shifting tactile technoscape for multimodal communication, the conceptualisation of touch, and its place alongside other modes. I will draw on three case studies which use a framework combining multimodal and multi-sensorial analysis to explore the digital mediation of touch: specifically, virtual touch; bio sensing and parent-baby touch; and sociotechnical futures of touch in remote personal relationships.  Using case study examples I will illustrate concepts that the InTouch project (ERC Consolidator Award has used to help to unpack the digital re-mediation of touch including: touch resources and repertoires; materiality, body and emplacement – the spatiality of connection; touch temporalities; formulating the ‘right-kind’ of touch; and reconfiguring ‘knowing touch’.

Through the talk I hope to demonstrate the value of multimodality and bringing it into conversation with the multisensory for understanding the digital futures of touch communication.


Carey Jewitt is Professor of Technology and Learning, at UCL Knowledge Lab, University College London, UK. Her work explores how the use of digital technologies shape interaction and communication, and is engaged with the development of multimodal theory and methods, and methodological innovation. Carey is a founding editor of the new Multimodality & Society journal, and co-founding editor of Visual Communication (both published by SAGE). She is Director of InTouch an ERC Consolidator Award which investigates the sociality of digital touch technologies for communication. She has led many research projects (funded by the ERC, ESRC, EPSRC, and the British Academy) including MODE. Carey is Chair of UCL Collaborative Social Science Domain, and much of her research has an interdisciplinary element. Her recent publications include articles in New Media & SocietyInformation, Communication & SocietyVisual CommunicationQualitative ResearchThe Senses and Society, and the book, Interdisciplinary Insights for Digital Touch Communication (2020).

To watch the recorded talk, see here:


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