|Author(s)||Yumei Gan, Christian Greiffenhagen, Christian Licoppe|
|Title||Orchestrated openings in video calls: Getting young left-behind children to greet their migrant parents|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Openings, Greetings, Video-mediated communication|
|Journal||Journal of Pragmatics|
Openings of interaction are critical for maintaining social relationships. We explore the practices of managing openings in a situation where parents are separated from their children and they only encounter each other in a video-mediated environment. As a result of this, these openings have a particular emotional significance. Based on detailed analysis of 56 video calls openings between Chinese migrant parents and their left-behind children, we show that grandparents, who are the caregivers of these children, “orchestrate” these openings. We demonstrate, firstly, that grandparents help to establish a parent-child “talking head” configuration upon connection. We show, secondly, that after the establishment of mutual talking head, both grandparents and parents expect the child to treat the production of this VMC-mediated configuration as sequentially implicative, that is to speak and greet first, and to greet largely. Our findings suggest that such orchestrated openings are an important component in the enactment of family bonding and intimacy across distances.