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People and technologies as resources in times of uncertainty

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  • Communication
  • Linguistics


This paper is concerned with people’s decision‐making and communication practices when moving around the world in uncertain situations. It examines how people acted when flights were grounded in Europe for one week in April 2010 as a result of the ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland. The paper focuses on the communication practices of a group of people travelling from Norway to Britain in a hired coach. Drawing on the approaches of literacy studies along with broader work on new technologies, it covers a range of issues including: how people integrate languages and technologies as global resources for local decision making; how they deploy networks of support in different ways; and how they evaluate knowledge in a rapidly changing situation of rumour and counter‐claim. The paper enriches understanding of people using technologies and acting within complex networks. It emphasises the need for literacy studies, and sociolinguistics more generally, to develop richer notions of networked interaction and mediated language use in a mobile world. And it highlights for mobilities research the importance of language issues in a multilingual world.

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