Nature of Interaction (2-3-) – Part Two:
A third factor that determines the change of distance is the nature of the interaction: Is it an intellectual, a business, or personal interaction ? This is the question we would like to consider now.
An intellectual interaction mainly involves a formal distance. The relationship between the, interacting individuals may be either a power relationship or an intimate relationship. For instance, these interacting individuals in the present case are both students, or both teachers. Most of these informants claim to be formal in an intellectual interaction because the nature of such interaction does not allow the use of a casual or an intimate distance: a student informant says that it will be inappropriate to deal with an intellectual topic and use an intimate distance, he adds that though his interlocutor may be of an equal status, he shifts to a formal distance when the topic of conversation is intellectual. Four pupil informants confirm that when they talk to one of their teachers and the topic concerns their studies, they never communicate in an intimate distance because both the nature of the transaction and the nature of their interlocutor require a formal distance.
A business meeting is one where both casual and formal distance can be used; it is also an interaction where intimacy is not liked. Employee informants can have a business interaction with each other or with the employer. Two employee informants say that in a business interaction , they start communicating in a casual space when greeting each other for instance, then they shift to a formal distance when it comes to business. An employee informant claims that he begins his communication in a formal distance but keep on dealing with their business in a casual distance. Yet, formal distance is more suitable when the interlocutor is superior.
It is worth noticing that the use of intimate distance when the transaction is business, and that casual and formal distances are more preferred, they get approximately the same number of informants and the same percentage.
A personal interaction is one where the interacting individuals use an intimate distance. As the tern personal itself suggests, a personal interaction involves personal affairs hence intimate distance seems to be more suitable. The interacting individuals are always of equal status. In their intimate relationship two student informants say that for personal topics, they always communicate in an intimate way that is keeping closer to their interlocutor who is most of the tine a close friend or a member of the family. As a matter of fact, personal matters are usually not discussed with strangers of distant interlocutors with whom one needs to use a formal distance. However, what should be pointed out is that the sex of the interlocutor is taken into consideration in a personal interlocutor.
In Moroccan society , the individual shares privacies with persons of the same sex and accordingly he uses an intimate distance without being embarrassed or blamed by others. We may conclude that the degree of formality decreases as the interacting person move from intellectual to business and finally to personal interaction. Distance is highly formal when the interaction is intellectual, also formal and casual when the interaction is business and entirely intimate when the interaction is personal.
Three different types of distance are found out to be taken by the Moroccan interacting individual: intimate distance, casual distance, and formal distance. The choice of each of these three spaces is determined, as we attempted to show, by three different factors. First of all, the sex of the interacting person which, having to do with the judgment of society, has a great influence on the choice of distance. Second, the nature of the relationship of the interacting persons which can be an intimate relationship similar to that friends. Classmates and members of the same family have and consequently involves either an intimate distance or a casual distance depending both on the degree of intimacy and the sex of the intimate interactor. The relationship can also be a power relationship a superior can have with a subordinate interlocutor.
The resulting distance is usually a formal distance only in some cases where the subordinate interlocutor becomes familiar with his superior through repeated contacts and therefore the distance shifts from formal to casual. The third factor that has been found to have an influence on space and causes its variation is the nature of the interaction. It can be intellectual requiring a formal distance, business involving both a casual and formal distances, or a personal interaction where only intimate distance seems to be suitable.
From the preceding discussion withing the scope of this pace of research we can draw the following conclusion about the use of distance in the Moroccan culture: Moroccans in general tend to favour a distance of one foot and half in public situations, in other words, the casual distance is more prominent in interaction in public. It appears that an embarrassing interpersonal distance in the Moroccan culture would include touch, unless it is used to couvey intimacy in its highest degree. At the same time formal distance seems to be restricted to vey formal interaction that takes place in a formal sitting.
However, the followings of this piece of research do not reveal all about distance in the Moroccan interaction; there are probably many other points relating to the spacing patterns in Morocco that might have been investigated had there been a larger and more varied number of informants. The analysis of a so important topic that can be tackled with more depth.
Proximics: Evidence from Moroccan culture