Conviviality and phatic communion?

  • Ben Rampton King’s College London


The focus on ‘unimportant’ language in this collection is driven by major contemporary questions. In conditions of superdiversity, the old binaries—minority/majority, migrant/host etc.—can no longer account for the splits and alignments emerging in globalised environments and in response, social scientists have turned their attention to informal processes, seeking new principles for social cohesion in low-key local ‘conviviality’ (Gilroy 2006; Vertovec 2007; Wetherell 2009). Along similar lines, commentators point to the decline of traditional party politics and look instead to social media and digital communication as new resources for grassroots mobilisation. So does the communication of apparently trivial matters really hold the seeds to social renewal, or are such ideas romantically over-inflated?