- (of a grouping of people) arranged so that each can see and interact with the others
- (of a grouping of people) arranged so that each can maintain some privacy from the others
If "phatic" is generally understood as an emphasis on sociality then forms of terminating communication (i.e. acts like leave-taking, parting and, on the Internet, blocking) are naturally pushed out of the picture. For further research this necessitates a separate category of phatic investigation focused on unsociability, ungregariousness, avoidance, absence, shyness, social withdrawal, isolation, etc. which for classification purposes could be called minus-phatics (there is ample research in social sciences for this avenue).It just so happened that I had to look up the word psychedelic, which I knew to mean "mind manifesting" due to greek etymology psyche+delos, because it was coined relatively recently, in 1957. Well, it turns out that the very same British psychiatrist who coined the word psychedelic, Humphry Osmond, also coined sociopetal and sociofugal:
Osmond began a line of research into what he called "socio-architecture" to improve patient settings, coining the terms "sociofugal" and "sociopetal", starting Robert Sommer's career, and contributing to environmental psychology. (Sociofugal refers to a grouping of people arranged so that each can see and interact with the others, while sociopetal refers to a grouping of people arranged so that each can maintain some privacy from the others.) [from Wikipedia on Humphry OsmondBesides the fact that different sources confuse the meaning of each term (wikipedia and wiktionary have switched the meanings and it's impossible to tell which is which) I think I need to look into Osmond's writings some day because there's no need for something like minus-phatics if we could just classify sociopetal phatics as the emphasis on promoting contact, prolonging communication, and maintaining relationships, and conversely, sociofugal phatics as the emphasis on terminating contact, discontinuing communication, and breaking off relationships. To confirm that these notions suit phatic studies one only needs to consult a three-page excerpt from Edward Hall's The Hidden Dimension (1966):
Several years ago, a talented and perceptive physician named Humphry Osmond was asked to direct a large health and research center in Saskatchewan. His hospital was one of the first in which the relationship between semifixed-feature space and behavior was clearly demonstrated. Osmond had noticed that some spaces, like railway waiting rooms, tend to keep people apart. These he called sociofugal spaces. Others, such as the booths in the old-fashioned drugstore or the tables at a French sidewalk café, tend to bring people together. These he called sociopetal. The hospital of which he was in charge was replete with sociofugal spaces and had very few which might be called sociopetal. Furthermore, the custodial staff and nurses tended to prefer the former to the latter because they were easier to maintain. Chairs in the halls, which would be found in little circles after visiting hours, would soon be lined up neatly in military fashion, in rows along the walls.Osmond most likely wrote about this in 1958 in a paper titled "The Relationship between Architect and Psychiatrist", but I can't find access to it, so I'll just let it be for now. If I find anything in phatic studies that would allow for alignment with these terms then I'll take this up again.
One situation which attracted Osmond's attention was the newly built "model" female geriatric ward. Everything was new and shiny, neat and clean. There was enough space, and the colors were cheerful. The only trouble was that the longer the patients stayed in the ward, the less they seemed to talk to each other. Gradually, they were becoming like the furniture, permanently and silently glued to the walls at regular intervals between the beds. In addition, they all seemed depressed.
Sensing that the space was more sociofugal than sociopetal, Osmond put a perceptive young psychologist, Robert Sommer, to work to find out as much as he could about the relationship of furniture to conversations. Looking for a natural setting which offered a number of different situations in which people could be observed in conversations, Sommer selected the hospital cafeteria, where 36 by 72-inch tables accommodated six people. As the figure below indicates, these tables provided six different distances and orientations of the bodies in relation to each other.
Enough small tables so that every patient had a place would provide additional territoriality and an opportunity to keep magazines, books, and writing materials. If the tables were square, they would also help to structure relationships between patients so that there was a maximum opportunity to converse.
Once the staff had been cajoled into participating in the experiments, the small tables were moved in and the chairs arranged around them. At first, the patients resisted. They had become accustomed to the placement of "their" chairs in particular spots, and they did not take easily to being moved around by others. By now, the staff was involved to the point of keeping the new arrangements reasonably intact until it was established as an alternative rather than an annoying feature to be selectively inattended. When this point had been reached, a repeat count of conversations was made. The number of conversations had doubled, while reading had tripled, possibly because there was now a place to keep reading material. Similar restructuring of the dayroom met with the same resistance and the same ultimate increase in verbal interaction.
At this point, three things must be said. Conclusions drawn from observations made in the hospital situation just described are not universally applicable. That is, across-the-corner-at-right-angles is conductive only to: (a) conversation of certain types between (b) persons in certain relationships and (c) in very restricted cultural settings. Second, what is sociofugal in one culture may be sociopetal in another. Third, sociofugal space is not necessarily bad, nor is sociopetal space universally good. What is desirable is flexibility and congruence between design and function so that there is a variety of spaces, and people can be involved or not, as the occasion and mood demand. The main point of the Canadian experiment for us is its demonstration that the structuring of semifixed-features can have a profound effect on behavior and that this is effect is measurable. This will come as no surprise to housewives who are constantly trying to balance relationship of fixed-feature enclosures to arrangement of their semifixed furniture. Many have had the experience of getting a room nicely arranged, only to find that conversation was impossible if the chairs were left nicely arranged. (Hall 1966: 108-110)