Capturing love at a distance

Multisensoriality in intimate video calls between migrant parents and their left-behind children


  • Yumei Gan Shanghai Jiao Tong University



video calls, intimacy, intimate relationships, video analysis, multisensoriality


Studies have shown that multisensorial interactions are an important medium for achieving love and intimacy. Nevertheless, the question remains: How do people constitute their “love at a distance” when they can only interact with each other over a video call, in which certain sensorial resources (e.g., touch, smell, and taste) are not available? Drawing from two years of video-based fieldwork involving recordings of habitual calls among the members of migrant families, I consider the application of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (EMCA)-informed video analysis to investigating intimate relationships constructed through remote means. I present an innovative method of video recording that allows me to analyze the interactional resources toward which participants orient themselves in their calls. I illustrate this approach with data analysis to demonstrate the relevance of video to examining intimacy at a distance. This article proposes that a distinct contribution of video-based research to the discipline lies in its ability to capture how people use their embodied and sensorial interactions to form intimacy across distances.  


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How to Cite

Gan, Y. (2021). Capturing love at a distance: Multisensoriality in intimate video calls between migrant parents and their left-behind children. Social Interaction. Video-Based Studies of Human Sociality, 4(3).