Touch matters – because it is fundamental to how we communicate, experience and know ourselves, others and the world.
What would it be like if you could hug or touch across distance? How might it shape your sense of connection? What bonds might be formed or lost? How could you establish trust, or protect your privacy and safety? These uncertainties are raised by a new wave of sensory communication technologies that is reconfiguring touch and will change how we feel the world; just as visual technologies have changed what and how we see.
This unchartered terrain provides the starting point for IN-TOUCH. IN-TOUCH sets out to close the immense gap between rapid technological development and social science understanding of digital touch, and to:
- Anticipate and confront the social, political and ethical challenges raised by digital touch (such as, privacy, safety, and digital exclusion)
- Enhance our capacity to fully imagine the societal relevance and potential of digital touch for communication
- Inform the use and governance of digitally mediated touch
- Enable adequate account and care of people’s communicative practice and their social contexts in the development of digital touch.
IN-TOUCH will achieve scholarly impact within the social science fields of communication, sociology and technology. Notably it will expand the capacity of social science to investigate digital touch and in doing so open up a major program of social research. It will also have scholarly impact beyond these fields, for example, in gender studies, health and governance.