In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Proxemics

  • Introduction
  • Territory
  • The Environment
  • Group Interaction
  • Technology and Computer-Mediated Communication
  • Persuasion, Compliance, and Sales
  • Support and Comfort

Communication Proxemics
Laura Guerrero, Christina Fleuriet
  • LAST REVIEWED: 31 August 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0168


Proxemics refers to the perception, use, and structuring of space as communication. The study of proxemics is multidisciplinary, with scholars in fields such as anthropology, architecture, communication, linguistics, psychology, and sociology, among other fields, all making important contributions. The multidisciplinary nature of research on proxemics is appropriate given that space is a ubiquitous part of most human interaction. Space is not only physical, as reflected in the amount of space between people or in the layout of a room and the arrangement of furniture; it is also psychological, with people from different social and cultural groups perceiving and using space differently. The literature reflects the ubiquitous nature of proxemics by focusing on how space functions in different contexts. Early work on proxemics often focused on how culture or the environment shape proxemic communication. From the literature in these areas emerged concepts such as personal space, interpersonal distancing, territory, and crowding. Scholars have also examined how proxemics functions in interpersonal relationships, small groups, and computer-mediated communication, and how it is used to send messages related to persuasion and social support.

General Overviews

There are several excellent sources for general information on proxemic communication. Going back to some of the seminal works that helped launch the study of proxemics can provide insight into the reasons why proxemics was first deemed an essential part of human communication. Textbooks provide easy access to summaries of both classic and contemporary work on proxemics.

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