Power and politeness in the workplace : a sociolinguistic analysis of talk at work


Power and politeness in the workplace : a sociolinguistic analysis of talk at work

Janet Holmes and Maria Stubbe

(Real language series / general editors, Jennifer Coates, Jenny Cheshire and Euan Reid)

Longman, 2003

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Bibliography: p. [182]-191

Includes index



This book provides insights into the way we all talk at work. It contains a wealth of material illustrating the way people communicate with each other in their ordinary everyday encounters in the workplaces. The analysis focusses on how and why people 'do' power and politeness in the workplace. It examines the strategies involved in balancing the demands of the workplace and maintaining good relationships with colleagues. Drawing on a large and very varied corpus of data, the authors explore specific types of workplace talk, such as giving advice and instructions, solving problems, running meetings, making decisions and less obviously types of workpace talk such humour and small talk.


1. POWER, POLITENESS AND THE WORKPLACE CONTEXT Power, politeness and contextPowerPolitenessContextThe Wellington Language in the Workplace ProjectBrief Outline of content of the bookNotes2. FROM OFFICE TO PRODUCTION LINE: CONSTRUCTING A CORPUS OF WORKPLACE DATADesigning a Method of Collecting Workplace DataCollecting the DataConclusionNotes3. GETTING THINGS DONE AT WORK Being Direct DownwardsMitigation and Management Between EqualsGetting the Boss to Cooperate - requests and indirectivesHintsConclusionNotes4. WORKPLACE MEETINGSIntroductionTypes of MeetingsHow are Meetings Structured?Managing Interaction in MeetingsDoing Power and Politeness in Meetings: 2 case studiesConclusionNotes5. SMALL TALK AND SOCIAL CHAT AT WORKThe Distribution of Social Talk in the WorkplaceSocial Functions of non-task orientated talk at WorkConclusionNotes6. HUMOUR IN THE WORKPLACEFunctions of Humour in the WorkplaceHumour and Workplace CultureConclusionNotes7. MISCOMMUNICATION AND PROBLEMATIC TALK AT WORKMiscommunicationNegotiating with the BossNegotiating 'downwards'Problems, Power and PartnershipConclusionNotes8. CONCLUSION: SOME IMPLICATIONS AND APPLICATIONSIntroductionGetting integrated at workReflection as a Learning Strategy for the WorkplaceConclusionNotes

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