Electronic Communication

Political, Social and Educational uses

by Sami Zlitni (Volume editor) Fabien Liénard (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 204 Pages


Whether they are citizens or political, client or company, learner or teacher, men now converse with a variety of stakeholders by using ICT. All these electronic tools promote uses and practices which give them considerable power of speech, strong freedom of expression and choice. So each of us participates actively, wherever we are and whenever we want, in the construction of «new intermediate spaces» making permeable classical border from public to private space.
All this justifies this collective work that proposes to examine electronic communication from various angles. Thus, twenty-three researchers were involved in the drafting of the nine chapters of this volume we introduce, in collaboration with Marina Haan. The transcription of an Yves Winkin conference contextualizes it. This conference took place in June 2014 and was held on the occasion of an international conference on Electronic Communication, Cultures and Identities. The chapters proposed here are not answers but insights from experience and research worldwide. The chapters are grouped into two main parts: ICT and political communication and Education, identity and electronic communication. Two parts which ultimately correspond to areas that use electronic communication with various initial communication objectives.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Electronic Communication in Digital Societies
  • Prolegomena. “Do we really need to fly from communicational utopia?”
  • ICT and political communication
  • Social Media Impact on Election Campaign: A Study of the Indian General Elections 2014
  • Chinese Micro-Bloggers’ Behaviors Towards Twiplomacy: Text Analysis of British PM David Cameron’s Micro-blogs
  • Making Sense of Gezi Park Protests: Gezi Park Protests as a Defence of Lifestyles
  • Theorizing Cyber activism: Drawing from Durkheimiam lenses
  • Education, Identity and Electronic Communication
  • The Teaching of French and Digital Humanities
  • The pedagogies of the future: through young people’s eyes in storytelling experiences with the digital in Finland and Greece
  • Text Messages: Enemy or Ally in the Spelling Learning Process? A Longitudinal Study of 11–12-Year-Old Junior High School Students
  • Strategies for Building Online Identities in Academia. An Exploration of Digital Communication of Researchers in Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Identity in the Era of Big Data: An Embodied Approach
  • List of Contributors


Electronic Communication in Digital Societies

Following the line of the previous collective publications (Liénard and Zlitni, on 2011, 2012; Zlitni and Liénard, on 2012, 2013), this volume deals with what we consider to be an object of multidisciplinary research: electronic communication. Patrick Charaudeau finely illustrates the idea of multidisciplinarity, meanwhile, his views engender a brief reflection that we intend to bring forward:

I would like to avoid the fault of pretending to be a specialist of all these disciplines […], and even though, for the sake of the idea of interdisciplinarity which I advocate, I read, as much as possible, the works of historians, philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists and the specialists of other disciplines, I cannot claim that the degree of my knowledge is sufficient for me to discuss everything (2012 : 172).

We thus read, as much as possible, the works of the researchers of different disciplines dealing with the same object of scientific interest: electronic communication. But we agree with Patrick Charaudeau that this experience cannot turn us into specialists of these disciplines. It is thus essential to apply to the researchers specializing in sciences of information and communication, as well as in language sciences (linguists, sociolinguists, psycholinguists or didacticiens, etc.), in sciences of education, political sciences, behavioral sciences, social sciences, sciences of management, etc. We mean that the complexity of the scientific object enhances the importance of interdisciplinarity and accounts for the multidisciplinary logic of this work.

Numerous authors discussed interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, and even transdisciplinarity, polydisciplinarity. Among them there is Claudine Blanchard-Laville (2000), Yves Le Noir and Lucie Sauvé (1998), Bernard Valade (1999), Dominique Vink (2000) or, evidently, Edgar Morin (1994, 1999). First of all, we shall refer to the ideas of the latter, namely, to his reminding us of the fact that a discipline is: ← 7 | 8 →

An organizational category within the scientific knowledge [which] establishes the division and the specialization of work and corresponds to the diversity of the domains covering the sciences […]. A discipline has a natural tendency towards autonomy by means of demarcating its boundaries, establishing its vocabulary, creating or applying its techniques and, possibly, by developing its own theories (1994)1.

But in the same article, he specifies the fact that the history of disciplines is made out of

[…] breaks in the disciplinary boundaries, the encroachments of a problem of one discipline upon another, the circulations of concepts, the emergence of hybrid disciplines which will end up becoming autonomous.

Without pushing the reasoning up to this paroxysm, we can admit that the peculiarities of even electronic communication make the sciences (human, social, as well as technical) collaborate in order to observe (and better identify) the plurality of the practices and the uses of electronic communication. This fact makes us consider the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary cases to be likely to articulate the cooperations when the research object is common. Indeed, considering what Alain Glykos says (1999) allows us to admit that multidisciplinarity is “An association of disciplines which contributes to a common achievement, but without which every discipline has to modify its own vision of things and its own methods” (in Claverie, on 2009: 14). The limits of this approach are obvious and particularly explicit in the situations with a low degree of sharing information because the researchers of every discipline “return” to the principles of their respective sciences as soon as they have finished the study requiring a disciplinary link: the multidisciplinarity. But, finally, it is does not refer to interdisciplinarity either, because, as Pamela Mitchell explains, this phenomenon results in regrouping “the researchers working together, each of them working on their disciplinary groundwork in order to solve the common problem” (2005: 333). The great difference, according to Edouard Kleinpeter (2011), lies in the fact that in the latter case “the scientists would not work anymore in parallel [like in multidisciplinary situations], but would rather communicate with each other on a regular basis”. We, undoubtedly, put this suggestion in the highlight of the actual work (it also having been the guiding line of our scientific research since 2011): we offer texts refering to particular sciences ← 8 | 9 → in a multidisciplinary logic, in the same way as the chapters of this book contribute to the scientific decompartmentalization from an interdisciplinary standpoint. In other words, we participate in the transverse exchanges between researchers, who, by means of their specific concepts and methods, suggest observing, studying the same uses and the same practices of electronic communication.

As a matter of fact, every day electronic communication becomes a little bigger integral part of everyday life of billions of human beings. One of the explanations lies in the technical and technological quality of equipment (structural and personal), regardless of our geographical location. The mediating tools are based on more and more technologies while getting much simpler to use. They also turn out to be highly complementary. The complementarity and the convergence prove to be two assets, two forces, which undeniably participate in their development and allow them to attract a large number of users. Speaking about complementarity implies admitting the fact that, even if the competition between various economic agents of ICT (manufacturers, developers, distributors, etc.) is fierce, the acquisition of a computer and an intelligent telephone (or a smartphone), for example, makes it possible to cross the uses without facing real problems of compatibility or configuration. This technological complementarity thus goes hand in hand with an increasing convergence: the uses become more diversified (the users can perform more and more operations with the same ICT), there are new practices being developed and converging toward the communication modes that just not long ago required the employment of a specific ICT. Nowadays it is possible and very simple to browse the Internet, to consult one’s e-mails or a Facebook profile, to send SMS or to publish a video from a computer or from a mobile phone. The programmes and the communication interfaces are logically accomplished to stimulate this convergence and to encourage the users to employ ICT constantly. Thus, the notion of connected presence, highlighted by Christian Licoppe reveals all its dimension, all its sense:

the relationship between friends and relatives becomes a dense, seamless tissue, made by means of continuous interlacing of face-to-face interactions and of popularizing through the media acts of communication, the proliferation of the contacts being a guarantor for the link. This connected presence blurs the borderline between presence and absence, because due to linking up the participants are always a little bit present in others (on 2009: 30). ← 9 | 10 →

The relationship between the individuals is continuous, it being prolonged from face-to-face communication to the exchanges via ICT. The frequency of contacts and digital exchanges increase meanwhile the time of interaction, of speaking, decreases. Christian Licoppe gives an example of phone calls which become more frequent and shorter means of communication, but we can also point out the success of SMS to illustrate the idea. The explanation is simple: the use of ICT takes root in our everyday life and integrates into daily human activities for (and to the point of) perpetuating the face-to-face relationship without time limit. There is no more pressure, no necessity of exchange and finally ICT prolong physical relationship in time, being no more attribute of something exceptional or important but an element of everyday routine and mundanity. Christian Licoppe specifies the idea by indicating that

the interpersonal technologies of communication (a landline phone, a mobile phone, voice and electronic mails, SMS, handwritten correspondence, etc.) build up the resources for establishing contacts, in the same way as face-to-face means of communication do. They are like numerous threads which, all together, weave the relational tapestry (ibidem: 32).

This relational tapestry, made out of a tangle of electronic messages, provides structurizing more or less stable discourse spheres (i.e., regularly frequented by interagents) according to the convenience of the (virtual) place, the theme, the exchanges or the leaders. It means that we consider the alleged discourse spheres to be virtual communities, that are a set of social entities connected with each other through social and verbal digital interactions carried out and maintained with a precise purpose, being shared by all the users, all the members of the network concerned. As soon as the theme, the purpose is identified, an exchange “programme” gets more or less explicitly developed and interaction rites are worked out. They vary a lot in nature and in the quality of the exchanges in focus, which is likely to depend on the parameters mentioned above: the quality of the place, the exchanges and the leaders. To specify this idea, we resort to the works of Anita Blanchard who actually explains: “Virtual behavior settings are created through the shared interactions of members and a developing sense of space or ‘place’ in CMC” (2004: 2). Inspired by the ← 10 | 11 → works of Jones (1997)2, she compares the functioning of a social network (thus representing a digital discourse sphere) with that of a café. Indeed, the social structure of such an establishment is pyramidal with the chief manager at its summit, that is the café owner who is the coordinator of the place and, above all, a decision-maker, the fact accounting for his hyperactivity. He requires actions from his staff (waiters and other employees) who can also have coordination responsibilities to satisfy the needs of the individuals constituting the third level: the customers. Anita Blanchard distinguishes between several types of customers. The “true” customers are the soul of the place: they make it live and identify themselves with it to various extents, all of them expecting a lot of hierarchical levels in return, according to their loyalty (their attachment to the establishment). Occasional customers and passers-by (the ultimate level) do not have the same expectations. The representatives of the first category look for the satisfaction of their primary needs (finding a shelter, having something to eat or getting relief). The others are eager to discover an environment, an ordinary discourse space. All these members interact socially and verbally more or less intensively, the most involved ones (at Levels 1, 2 and 3) participating undoubtedly more (in terms of frequency, but also in terms of intensity). So Anita Blanchard attracts the readers’ attention to the virtual communities which she researches more specifically. She explains that: “Participants in virtual behavior settings can be characterized by activity level, ranging from leaders to lurkers” (2004: 13). To specify her point of view Anita Blanchard has created the table reproduced by us bellow: ← 11 | 12 →


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (June)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 204 pp., 5 b/w ill., 1 coloured ill., 21 tables

Biographical notes

Sami Zlitni (Volume editor) Fabien Liénard (Volume editor)

Sami Zlitni has a PhD in Information and Communication Sciences and is associate professor in the same discipline at IUT of Le Havre. Fabien Liénard has a PhD in Language Sciences and is associate professor (HDR) in Information and Communication Sciences in the same establishment. They have long been working on electronic communication in the laboratory IDEES Le Havre, UMR CNRS 6266 and have published several books on the topic.


Title: Electronic Communication