Structureof Presentation Through the analysis of everyday texts in the workplace I will analysis the interrelationship between language, discourse and power This can be seen through the use of politeness, humour, small talk and otherization as a means of defining a person’s power in an organisation
POWER Power...exists as part of the social fabric of communication (Searle, 1969, 1995) Social action is ‘logically tied to that of power (Giddens, 1993) Power is ‘a netlike, circulating organisation’ (Davidson, 1986) Power is something...created through people interacting in a certain social context (Foucault, 1978) The degree to which the hearer can impose his own plans and his own self-evaluation (face) at the expense of...the speakers plans of self-evaluation (Brown and Levison, 1987)
Forms of Power Legitimate power – based on position and responsibilities Referent power – based on interpersonal skills Expert power – based on skills and strengths Reward power – based on the ability to reward those who follow Coercive power – based on the use of negative influences
The Workplace ‘...power relationships exist between people employed at different levels within an organisation.’ (Bernadette Vine, 2004: 1-2) Power in the workplace is legitimate, based on delegated authority through position, and expertise, based on skills and strengths Workplace power is coercive, and plays on negative influences to maintain the hierarchy People in power decide what is correct, appropriate, and how much power they express
‘...less powerful speakers are expected to be more polite, while more powerful speakers are allowed to be less polite...’ (Brown and Levinson, 1987: 80)
Politeness – ‘an interaction [that] can be defined as the means employed to show awareness of another person’s face’ (Yule, 1996:60)
Small Talk – often seen as relationship orientated, small talk subtly addresses transactional talk (business) to create collegiality and power relations
Humour - Utterances of great hilarity to create and maintain solidarity, defining power status, reduce inequalities and challenge hierarchies’ (Holmes, J., 2000: 159-160)
Otherization – ‘ascribing identity to the self through the often negative attribution of characteristics of the other’ (Holliday et al, 2004:180)
Face refers to the ‘...public self-image of a person ... [and] to that emotional and social sense of self that everyone has and expects everyone else to recognise.’ (Yule, 1996:60)
Positive – ‘...the want to be approved in certain aspect’ (Brown and Levison, 1987: 58); desires acceptance through claiming common ground, being understanding and expressions of solidarity.
Negative – ‘...the want to be impeded’ (Brown and Levison, 1987: 58); desire to maintain territory and self direction through the attention of negative face by imposition, deference and avoiding intrusion.
Oppressive discourse – ‘the open expression of power (Pateman, 1980)
Repressive discourse – exercising coercive power while minimising overt status differences and emphasising solidarity to gain compliance and good will (Pateman, 1980)
Do power – the direct expression of power or status (Holmes, Stubbe and Wine (1999)
Functions include: develop relationship with superior, challenge superior, “filling-the-gap” between tasks, establish power, reinforces solidarity and support superiors.
‘Psychological functions of humour such as tension release, the expression of aggression, or hostility’ (Freud, 1905)
‘The enforcement of social norms’ (Bricker, 1980)
‘The degree to which H [the hearer] can impose his (sic) own plans and his (sic) own self-evaluation (face) at the expense of S’s [the speaker’s] plans and self-evaluation’ (Brown and Levinson, 1987:77)
Stereotyping – the woman here has identified Spencer with the stereotype ....
Sexual Harassment – the woman presents the idea that Spencer has identified her as a ‘HOPA’
Breaking Confidence – the woman has broken her working expectation of keeping the information regarding internet usage private from the company, as well as breaking her trust in Spencer but providing details regarding his use
Exploiting Authority – the woman has identified Spencer as a _____ who has exploited his authority and will result in the lost mistrust from the rest of the organisation
Politeness – the woman has used negative politeness to expose Spencer to the rest of the organisation and challenge his power while maintaining her self-respect and her capability to perform her job, a strategy to save her own face
Humour – she uses humour as to challenge Spencer’s hierarchical status and to expose the power imbalance subtly, de-emphasising her power difference between Spencer and other members reading the email
Small talk – she presents this information in the form of small talk to construct new power relations. This strengthens solidarity and collegiaty while mitigating criticism towards Spencer
Otherization – the woman is establishing/reinforcing the otherization that Spencer is alien to the solidarity of the rest of the organisation, identifying the dangers of essentialism
Discourse – she uses both oppressive and repressive discourse in order to achieve her goal. She uses oppressive discourse by openly exposing Spencer’s abuse of power and because of this attention on Spencer, achieves repressive discourse to gain solidarity against him, and minimising her power difference.
Hedges – she makes a comment ‘Is that all you really think of me?’ and makes use of a hedge (‘really’) as a means of protecting her face but making the utterance indirect, and retaining her freedon
CONCLUSION Although the authority and power associated is higher up the hierarchical status of an organisation, the woman in this text has challenged her superior due to the feeling of exploitation and manipulation from her boss She usually a variety of tactics to communicate this message to her colleagues while protecting her face in regards to her self-respect and capabilities to perform her job. These include the use of negative politness (to protect her face), humour (to expose her superior’s poor work ethic in a position of authority while de-emphasises the power imbalance), and small talk (allowing her message to be listened to more carefully. She achieves solidarity between her colleagues as well).
References From Study Guide Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Holmes, J. (2000a). Doing collegiaty and keeping control at work: Small talk in government departments. In J. Coupland (Ed.) Small talk (pp. 51-58). Harlo, England: Pearson Pateman (1980) and Holmes, Stubbe and Vine (1999) as cited in Holmes, J. (2000a). Doing collegiaty and keeping control at work: Small talk in government departments. In J. Coupland (Ed.) Small talk (pp. 51-58). Harlo, England: Pearson Holmes, K. (2000b). Politeness, power and provocation: How humour functions in the workplace. Discourse Studies, 2(2), 159-185. Freud (1905), Bricker (1980) and O’Quin and Arnoff (1981) as cited in Holmes, K. (2000b). Politeness, power and provocation: How humour functions in the workplace. Discourse Studies, 2(2), 159-185.
References Cont. From Study Guide Holliday et al. (2004) pp. 180-181, as cited in Holliday, A., Hyde, M., & Kullman, J. (2004). Intercultural communication: An advanced resource book. London: Routledge Searle (1969, 1995) and Foucault (1980), Foucault (1978), Giddens, 1993), and Davidson (1986) all cited in Bower, H., & Martin, K. (2007). Communication across cultures: Mutual understanding in a global world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press B. Vine (n.d.) as cited in J. Benjamins (2004). Getting things done at work. No publication details available Yu.e, G. (1996), Pragmatic. Oxford: Oxford University Press Retrieved externally Essentialism (2010). Retrieved October 7, 2010 from the Wikipedia wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essentialism