Relational work, politeness and identity construction

Locher, Miriam A.. (2008) Relational work, politeness and identity construction. In: Handbooks of applied linguistics : communication competence, language and communication problems, practical solutions. Vol. 2, Handbook of interpersonal communication. Berlin, pp. 509-540.

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As social beings we express, communicate, and, ultimately, negotiate our identity through many different channels: one such channel may be the way we dress, another the way we comport ourselves; yet another important channel is the use of language. We can even claim that the way in which we use language plays a crucial role when enhancing, maintaining, and challenging relationships in interpersonal communication. This use of language has variously been termed facework, identity work, relational work or rapport management (cf. Section 3 and 4 for references). This chapter is intended to explain this use by utilizing some of the literature on identity that follows a postmodernist understanding of the concept of identity as “the social positioning of self and other” (Bucholtz and Hall 2005:586). In a ddition, an attempt is made to combine research on the construction of identity by means of language more generally with the linguistic literature that has developed ideas under the keyword politeness. It is shown in this chapter that politeness research can fruitfully be combined with research on identity construction. This line of thought has already been pursued to some extent in the field of gender research (cf. Swann 2000), and also in studies on face and identity more generally (cf. Tracy 1990; Spencer-Oatey 20 07a,b). The chapter thus focuses on the interpersonal side of communication and further intends to explore the links between identity, face, and politeness. It is organized as follows: In section 2, I will discuss the interpersonal and the informational aspect of language. In Section 3, I will move on to link these ideas to identity construction in general. In Section 4, different approaches to politeness will be at the heart of the investigation and will be discussed with identity construction in mind. In Section 5, concluding remarks on the two approaches to interpersonal communication will round off the chapter.
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:Book Section, refereed
Book Section Subtype:Book Chapter
Publisher:Mouton de Gruyter
Series Name:Handbooks of applied linguistics
Issue Number:Vol. 2
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:31 Dec 2015 10:47
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:14

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