Kinesics is the study and interpretation of human body movements that can be taken as symbolic or metaphorical in social interaction. According to anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell, who coined this term in 1952, kinesics encompasses facial expression, gestures, posture and gait, and visible arm and body movements. Expressive movements taken as symbolic actions display or emphasize thoughts, feelings, moods, intentions, and/or attitudes and may be used in combination with, or instead of, verbal communication. In order to have a shared communicative value, bodily activity must become conventionalized, or widely understood. Theories on kinesics have been included consistently in the canon of communication theory, especially within the study of nonverbal communication, since the 1950s.

The study of gesture started in ancient times. The Greeks and Romans considered gestures to be a persuasive accompaniment to rhetorical discourses, where the use of gesturing was studied intensively at drama schools in order to improve acting. In the Middle Ages, since most people could not read or write, documents were often ratified through the use of specific gestures: The illuminations of a medieval manuscript, the Sachsenspiegel, illustrate the conventional gestures used at that time in legal and political spheres. The use of gesture in dance and the theatre was studied by Natya Shastra in India about 200 BCE. This work addressed how emotions can be performed and inspired in the audience through appropriate kinesic movements.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.

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Gayes Mahestu
Edwina Ayu Kustiawan