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Managing rapport in talk: using rapport sensitive incidents to explore the motivational concerns underlying the management of relations

By Helen Spencer-Oatey

Abstract

This paper focuses on the motivational concerns that underlie the management of relations. In linguistics, the management of relations has been discussed extensively within politeness theory, and so the paper starts by identifying four key issues of controversy in politeness theory: (a) should ‘polite’ language use be explained in terms of face (e.g. Brown, Penelope, Levinson, Stephen C., 1987. Politeness. Some Universals in Language Usage, CUP, Cambridge. [Originally published as Universals in Language Usage: Politeness Phenomenon. In: Goody, Esther, (Ed.), Questions and Politeness: Strategies in Social Interaction. CUP, New York, 1978), conversational maxims (e.g. Leech, Geoffrey N., 1983. Principles of Pragmatics. Longman, London), and/or conversational rights (e.g. Fraser, Bruce, 1990. Perspectives on politeness. Journal of Pragmatics 14 (2), 219–236); (b) why are speech acts such as orders interpersonally sensitive — is it because they are a threat to our autonomy (Brown and Levinson, 1987 [1978]), or because of cost–benefit concerns (Leech, 1983); (c) is Brown and Levinson's concept of negative face too individually focused, and should a social identity component be included (Matsumoto, Yoshiko, 1988. Reexamination of the universality of face: politeness phenomena in Japanese. Journal of Pragmatics 12, 403–426); and (d) is face just a personal/individual concern or can it be a group concern (Gao, Ge, 1996. Self and other: a Chinese perspective on interpersonal relationships. In: Gudykunst, W.B., Ting-Toomey, S., Nishida, T. (Eds.), Communication in Personal Relationships Across Cultures, Sage, London. pp. 81–101.)? The paper then uses reports of authentic rapport sensitive incidents to throw light on these controversial issues and to find out the relational management concerns that people perceive in their everyday lives. It maintains that such data is important to politeness theory, because linguistic politeness needs to be studied within the situated social psychological context in which it occurs. The paper ends by presenting and arguing for a conceptual framework that draws a fundamental distinction between face and sociality rights, and that incorporates an independent/interdependent perspective, thus providing a more comprehensive framework for analysing the management of relations than is currently available

Topics: P1
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2687

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Citations

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