‘Hallo hoe gaan dit, wat maak jy?’: Phatic communication, the mobile phone and coping strategies in a South African context

  • Fie Velghe Tilburg University
Keywords: phatic communication, mobile phones, conviviality, voice, South Africa


This paper looks at the ways in which the mobile phone has become a means through which phatic communication is being expressed. More specifically, the paper shows how, in an impoverished community such as the Wesbank township in South Africa, phatic communication and ‘maintaining a connected presence’ are vital strategies of social networking. In a context of severe and desperate impoverishment, loneliness, chronic unemployment and boredom, the exchange of phatic communicational gestures such as a text message or a short phone call forms one of the many coping strategies that the residents in Wesbank employ to face up to the harsh conditions of poverty and insecurity.