Multimedia and Layers of Transnational Family Communication

  • Xuan Thu Dang Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Howard Nicholas La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Donna Starks La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia


Studies of home language use tend to focus on macro-level language changes and verbal communication rather than on micro-level analyses of family communication. This makes it difficult to form a nuanced picture of the relations among diverse resources deployed in transnational family communication. In this paper, we address this issue by reporting results from a preliminary study of the micro-level communicative interactions of a first-generation transnational Australian Vietnamese family who have settled in Melbourne, Australia. Through an in-depth analysis of a 20-minute video clip, we capture intersections in the rich, diverse communicative resources used by the family as they watched a favourite English television program while simultaneously keeping in contact with family members overseas. Our analysis shows that transnational family communication patterns involve complex displays of language use, silence, touch, movement, and spatial orientation, which together enable the family to communicate in the here and now with individuals near and far. We use the multiplicity framework to interpret the fluidity of multimodal communication, intimacy, and continuity across space.