Stommel explores the world of social interaction, which she believes underpins our social existence. “Throughout the day we repeatedly interact with others, at home, in care settings, in school and at work, often to get something organised, like a treatment, an assessment, or a date. How exactly do we do that, with what words, silences, actions at what moments, and how do we thereby also shape who we are and our relationships with others? That question drives my research,” Stommel explains. “As our communication increasingly takes place in digital contexts that question triggers me particularly. When we video call, chat, WhatsApp, or communicate with a robot, how does the interaction tie in with the communication technology? How do writing and speaking, digital functionalities and constraints play a role in what we get done socially?”
“Conversation analysts know that a hyphenated word or a silence of less than a second can make a world of difference. With the current hype around AI and the illusion that it can replace human communication, the call for researchers and students who are trained to examine communication with a fillet knife is greater than ever!”
About Wyke Stommel
Born in Tilburg in 1977, Stommel graduated in Dutch Language and Literature from Utrecht University in 2001. She obtained her PhD in sociology from Goethe-Universität Frankfurt in 2009. Her PhD dissertation dealt with interaction on an online platform about eating disorders, to which she applied qualitative conversation analysis. “How does a newcomer present themselves when they enter this kind of an online community via text message, and how do community members respond, especially if the newcomer has controversial ideas about eating and losing weight?”
After completing her PhD, she was offered a position as a postdoc at VU University Amsterdam, researching interactional aspects of different forms of telephone and digital (chat and email) counselling. Since 2012, she has been working as an assistant professor and later associate professor at the Radboud University study programme in Dutch Language and Culture, and late last year, she was appointed expert group chair at the Department of Language and Communication. She is also affiliated with iHub, Radboud University's interdisciplinary Hub for Digitalisation and Society. Together with her colleagues, she won the Ammodo Team Science Award for this initiative in 2022. In 2021, she and others also received a ZonMW grant for research on insecurity in trans and DSD/intersex care.
Recently, Stommel and colleagues from across the country published the book Hoe werkt dagelijkse communicatie? Gesprekken onder de microscoop (How does everyday communication work? Conversations under the microscope). The book takes the reader into the wonder of how sophisticated social interaction is and explores the aspects involved in our everyday communication, including our digital communication.