Power in Everyday Discourse
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Power in Everyday Discourse



Power in Everyday Discourse

Power in Everyday Discourse



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    Power in Everyday Discourse Power in Everyday Discourse Presentation Transcript

    • Language, Discourse and Power
      Assignment three: Web-Based Presentation
      Power in Everyday Discourse
      By Murray Riches
    • Two examples of everyday Discourse Used to ‘Do Power’
      Racist discourse used to assert one groups power over another
      Small talk used to construct and contest workplace power relationships
    • - “part of the social fabric of communication”
      - “created through people interacting in a certain social context”
      - contextually determined component of discourse (Bower & Martin, 2007, p. 84-85)
      - “many different kinds of power and influence that are interrelated and have varied manifestations” (Tannen, 1987, p.5).
      What is power?
    • Discourse creates power
      “the values and beliefs we hold which seem to be ‘normal’ and ‘commonsense’ are in fact constructs of the organisations and institutions around us, created and shared through language” (Wareing, 2004, p. 1)
      Power and Discourse?
    • Interaction one:
      1 – “Do you have to learn Maori to be a primary school teacher?”
      2 – “Yea – just the basics, ya no”
      1 – “That’s crazy! – they should be more concerned about the fact that half the kids can’t speak English properly these days. I mean, some of my friends were Maori at school and they didn’t need to learn Maori to do well”
      2– “Mmmm, we have to learn the basic Pacific stuff too...”
      1 – “What?! That’s ridiculous; it’s not even their country!”
      2 – “Yea, When in Rome do as the Romans do, a”
    • Production of commonsense
      “Maori friends”
      Construct ion of power relationship through:
    • Production of commonsense:
      “That’s crazy – They should be more concerned with the fact that half the kids can’t speak English properly”
      • Suggest other languages are distraction
      • English is of more value
      • Pacific people are part of the ‘other’ group
      • Need to fit into ‘our’ culture
      • “It’s not even their country”
      • “When in Rome do as the Romans do”
    • Nostalgia:
      “Half the kid’s can’t speak English properly these days”
      Her friends “didn’t need to learn Maori to do well at school”
      • Suggests these changes are causing educational breakdown
      • The old way was good for Maori
      “Maori Friends”:
      • “some of my friends were Maori”
      • Establishes credibility
      • Pragmatic not prejudice
    • Wetherell & Potter (1992) suggest racist discourse . . . should be seen as discourse . . . which has the effect of establishing, sustaining and reinforcing oppressive power relations between those defined” (p.70)
      Reinforce a power imbalance between Pakeha and non-Pakeha through everyday discourse
    • A - “I feel like shopping...”
      M - “Hmm” (looking intently at the computer)
      A - “I really do ya no”
      M - (silent)
      A - “I really want a surround sound system”
      Interaction two:
    • “Discourse in the workplace involves the construction not only of collegiality but also of power relations. Every interaction involves people enacting, reproducing and sometimes resisting institutional power relations in their use of discourse” (Holmes, 2000, p.51).
      Margret = superior
      Anne = subordinate
    • Small talk to reduce social distance:
      • Holmes (2000) suggests superiors often try to maintain a degree of social distance from subordinates, while subordinates try to reduce social distance
      Anne is keen to initiate conversation
      Margret is reluctant to get involved
      Small talk to resist power:
      • Demand recognition
      • Force Margret to see her as equal person
      • Suppress challenge to her authoritative position
      • Anne’s insistent attempts to initiate conversation
      • Margret seeks to terminate conversation
    • Power is used in common conversation:
      Construct and contest power relationships between people
      Build and reinforce institutional power relationships between groups
    • References:
      Bower, H., & Martin, K. (2007). Communication across cultures: Mutual understanding in a global world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
      Holmes, J. (2000). Doing collegiality and keeping control at work: Small talk in government departments. In J. Coupland (Ed.), Small talk (pp. 51-58). Horlow, England: Pearson.
      Tannen, D. (1987). Remarks on discourse and power. In L. Kedar (Ed.), Power through discourse (pp. 3-10). Norwood: Ablex.
      Wareing, S. (2004). What is language and what does it do? In L. Thomas, S. Singh, J. Peccei, J. Thornborrow & J. Jones (Eds.), Language, society and power: An introduction (pp. 1-16). London: Routledge.
      Wetherell, M., & Potter, J. (1992). Mapping the language of racism: Discourse and legitimisation of exploitation. New York; London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.