Politeness theory and relational work

Locher, Miriam A. and Watts, Richard J.. (2005) Politeness theory and relational work. Journal of politeness research, Vol. 1, H. 1. pp. 9-33.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5250225

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In this paper we briefly revisit politeness research influenced by Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory. We argue that this research tradition does not deal with politeness but with the mitigation of face-threatening acts (FTAs) in general. In our understanding, politeness cannot just be equated with FTA-mitigation because politeness is a discursive concept. This means that what is polite (or impolite) should not be predicted by analysts. Instead, researchers should focus on the discursive struggle in which interactants engage. This reduces politeness to a much smaller part of facework than was assumed until the present, and it allows for interpretations that consider behavior to be merely appropriate and neither polite nor impolite. We propose that relational work, the “work” individuals invest in negotiating relationships with others, which includes impolite as well as polite or merely appropriate behavior, is a useful concept to help investigate the discursive struggle over politeness. We demonstrate this in close readings of five examples from naturally occurring interactions.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > English Linguistics (Locher)
UniBasel Contributors:Locher, Miriam A.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Mouton de Gruyter
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:31 Dec 2015 10:46
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:03

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