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Language and power in the workplace


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Language and power in the workplace

  1. 1. Language and Power in the Workplace<br />By Karan Prakash08579342<br />
  2. 2. Definition of Power<br />. “Power is a concept which is of obvious relevance to the analysis of workplace data, as power relationships exist between people employed at different levels within an organisation” (cited in Administration Guide, 2010, p. 18). <br />“Power due to position has been referred to as ‘legitimate power’”. <br />
  3. 3. Introduction<br />Workplace – Event Cinemas, Lower Hutt.<br />Position – Supervisor<br />Power Levels – <br />Cinema Attendant (CA)Age range – 15-20<br />SupervisorAge range – 20-35<br />ManagerAge range – 25-45<br />
  4. 4. Key Concepts<br />Small Talk – “the management of small talk could be regarded as one example of subterranean power construction” (Holmes, 2000, p. 30).“The senior participant generally determines how much small talk there will be at the beginning and end of an interaction. The extent to which the discourse of work may be de-institutionalised, the extent to which the world of leisure will be permitted to encroach on the world of work is largely in the hands of the superior” (p. 30)<br />Politeness – “politeness in an interaction can be defined as the means employed to show awareness of another person’s face. In this sense politeness can be accomplished in situations of social distance or closeness. Showing awareness for another person’s face when the other seems socially distant is often described in terms of respect or deference. Showing the equivalent aware when the other is socially close is often described in terms of friendliness, camaraderie, or solidarity” (Yule, 1996, p.60)<br />Humour – “humour can be used to achieve the speaker’s instrumental goal while apparently de-emphasizing the power differential” (Holmes, 2000b)<br />
  5. 5. Text 1<br />The first text I have is a conversation between myself and Sarah, a CA at event cinemas who is of my age, and this is our first interaction for the evening. <br />K: Hey Sarah.S: Whats up brother?K: Not much. Been upto much?S: Went to watch the Phoenix play in the weekend.K: Awesome. Hey what do you want to clean tonight?S: I bags the warmer.K: I busted out the stopwatch on Brooke last night and he took under 10.S: Karan, you don’t think I can beat that? This is me you are talking to.K: (laughs) only time will tell.S: (laughs) Please, I got this.<br />
  6. 6. Breakdown of Text 1<br />Friendly relationship outside of work environment<br />Small talk –Informal languageSenior Participant determines the amount of small talk<br />Politeness – Social closeness, Age factor<br />Humour – Senior Participant uses humour to achieve goalDe-emphasizes the power differential<br />
  7. 7. Text 2<br />The second text is a conversation between one of my duty managers, Jason, who is in the late fourties and myself. <br />J: How are you doing Karan?K: Good Jase, you?J: Im good. I have the poster sheet ready for you.K: Oh good. J: You shouldn’t have too much to change which is great because I want you to help with stocktake.K: That won’t be an issue. Theres the Airbender standee, I will make that up as well tonight.J: If you can. Well you know what you are doing anyways. Also make sure that seat H-5 in cinema 6 doesn’t get sold.K: Wet seat?J: Yeah. What a nightmare.K: (laughs) done.<br />
  8. 8. Breakdown of Text 2<br />Solely work relationship<br />Small talk – Formal languageMinimal small talk<br />Politeness – Social distance, respectAge factor<br />Humour – Minimal use of humour by senior participant<br />
  9. 9. Conclusion<br />Power relationships are existent and operational in a workplace<br />Reduction in formality, “conversationalising”<br />Age plays a vital role<br />
  10. 10. References<br />Holmes, J. (2000). Doing collegiality and keeping control at work: Small talk in government departments. In j. Coupland (Ed.) Small talk (pp.51-58). Harlow, England: Pearson. <br />Holmes, J. (2000b). Politeness, power and provocation: How humour functions in the workplace. Discourse studies , 2(2), 159-185. <br />Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics . Oxford: Oxford University Press. <br />