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Accepted Paper:

Presence in the interstice. University students' strategies to recreate social presence in a post-pandemic scenario  
Alice Brombin (University of Trento, Italy)

Paper short abstract:

How do young people recreate social presence in a post-pandemic scenario? Focusing on social interaction of university students, the paper aims to understand the different dimensions of presence involved in students’ “interstitial relationalities” and their influence on young people resilience.

Paper long abstract:

The physical immediacy of others is a central component of the feeling of social presence (Kreijns 2021).However, in times of pandemic and social distancing how can we be together by staying apart?

On the basis of an ongoing ethnographic research, this paper focuses on students’ strategies to recreate social presence and proximity among the university population of the city of Padua, Italy.

The pandemic has strongly affected the ways in which young pepole interact. As a consequence of physical distancing presence for some students has become a virtual experience, this is also related to the withdrawal to an individual's private sphere and to a biological concern: the fact that our own body is to some extent something beyond our control, since it can be a vehicle of contagion in spite of our efforts.

At the same time, a different attitude can be observed, which entails the creation of “bubbles of social contact” that take place in interstitial spatialities and in fluid temporalities. In this sort of relational interstice, which is meant to be a place of refuge (Phelps 2018), students temporarily forget the concerns resulting from the pandemic and reclaim control of their perceptual and body experiences. Therefore, these relational bubbles entail a specific way of being present with each other that contributes to the establishment of a renewed sense of community and shared sociality.

According to these premises, this paper aims to understand the different dimensions of presence involved in interstitial relationalities and their influence on young people resilience.

Panel P111b
Being there - but how? On the transformation of presences II
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -