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This chapter examines cross-cultural and intercultural approaches to sociopragmatic dimensions of language use. After an initial introduction, the first main section clarifies and discusses some key concepts and issues, including ‘culture’ and ‘context’, as they have been conceptualized within cross-cultural and intercultural pragmatics; the distinctions between cross-cultural and intercultural research perspectives; and context and the interconnections between context and culture. It then proceeds to review some of the main research findings deriving from cross-cultural work on speech acts and cultural scripts, as well as cognitive and sociocultural perspectives on sociopragmatic aspects of intercultural communication. It includes authentic samples of data that illustrate a number of the above issues. Finally, the chapter reflects on the main theoretical challenges and opportunities associated with addressing the sociopragmatic aspects of language use from cross-cultural and intercultural perspectives, providing a critical summary and identifying promising areas for future research.
Chapter 12 is the first of two that deal with reactive politeness in intercultural contexts: the issues associated with handling relations when an offence has been perceived or when a disagreement/conflict has occurred or is emerging. The chapter focuses on situations in which one or both parties want to restore relations and considers how cultural factors may influence the process. Normally (although not exclusively), apologies are used to (try to) restore smooth relations. Unfortunately, there has been very little research into apologies from an evaluation perspective, neither prior to an apology (i.e. assessments relating to the behaviour that triggers the potential need for an apology) nor subsequent to an apology (i.e. whether the apology is accepted and smooth relations are restored). The chapter explores the potential impact of culture on the restoration process from three angles: culture and reactive assessments of an offence; culture and the performance of an apology; culture and the effectiveness of the apology.
Much work in both politeness theory and the intercultural field focuses on problematic interactions (situations where there has been some kind of offence or disagreement) and/or on ways of preventing or avoiding such problems, where the aim is to maintain smooth interpersonal relations. However, another important angle on relating is ways of proactively building and enhancing relations, and this is the focus of this chapter. It considers ways in which relationships of various kinds (personal friendships, workplace colleagues, international business partners) can be initiated and fostered, and the impact that cultural factors can have on these processes. Chapter 15 notes that there are few developmental models that identify or explain these processes, and that there is a corresponding minimal amount of empirical research into the developmental process, especially for intercultural relations. The chapter suggests, therefore, that this is a valuable area for further research. The chapter has four main sections: developmental conceptual frameworks; initiating intercultural relations; fostering and enhancing intercultural relations; conceptual reflections.
Chapter 8 explores the second major component of the evaluation warrant: the socio-moral order that underpins judgements and complements the other major component – interpersonal sensitivities. The chapter starts by considering theorising on morality and the moral order, since recent work in politeness theory has focused particularly on this. First, it discusses pragmatic theorising on the moral order before turning to work in moral psychology and describe two well-known moral frameworks in psychology. The chapter then explores possible links between face, values and moral foundations/motives from an interdisciplinary perspective, in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of their interconnections. Finally, the chapter argues for the inclusion of a social order that is primarily convention-based (i.e. relates more to descriptive norms and ‘social oughts’) and proposes that there is a continuum between the social and moral warrants to participants’ judgments. The chapter labels this the socio-moral order. As with concepts discussed in previous chapters, the issue of universality and cultural variability is central. There are three main sections to the chapter: morality and the moral order; moral foundations, values and face; social transgressions and morality.
This chapter is the second of two on ‘reactive politeness’; in other words, on the ways that interlocutors react and respond to something that has happened previously. It starts by considering the pros and cons of disagreement and conflict, and argues that, contrary to much public opinion, disagreement and conflict can be positive if handled well. Chapter 13 reports linguistic findings on conflict management strategies and provides an extensive analysis of a conflict in which culture plays a role. The chapter examines the different ways in which culture can affect disagreement and conflict, and notes the impact of the following: cultural membership/identity, different assessments/expectations associated with the communicative activity in which the disagreement takes place, and different assessments/expectations associated with the nature of the participant relations. In relation to cultural membership/identity, the chapter introduces faultline theory, explaining the impact that ‘identity faultlines’ can have on group or team relations. There are six main sections to the chapter: pros and cons of disagreement; conflict management orientations and strategies; dynamics of disagreement; cultural membership and disagreement; cultural orientation and tactics; culture, context and disagreement.
This chapter moves to the next main step in the book's politeness evaluation model: whether the behaviour in the focal event is expected or not and whether or not the evaluation process is triggered. It explores the concept of norms and the expectations that they give rise to. The chapter argues that breaches in norms and expectations trigger the evaluation process and that there can be cultural differences in the norms and expectations that people hold, as well as in the strictness with which they are upheld. In addition, it is argued that participants’ normalcy thresholds can vary according to the characteristics of other interlocutors, including ingroup/outgroup membership, biculturality/multiculturality and the influence of affective factors. The chapter has four main sections: descriptive and injunctive (prescriptive/proscriptive) norms, expectations and expectancy violation theory, prescriptive/proscriptive norms and etiquette, normalcy zone and threshold.
This chapter explores the final step in the evaluation process: the judgement itself. When the evaluation process is triggered through a noticeable breach of expectations, interactants draw on the various facets of their evaluation warrant (as explained in Chapters 7 and 8) and make a judgement. Chapter 9 focuses on this verdict stage of the process and explores the various elements associated with this. It points out that emotions are often intimately linked with the whole process of evaluation and argues that judgement of behaviour and judgement of the agent need to be distinguished. Often the two are imperceptibly merged, with ‘rude behaviour’ turning into a judgement of ‘rude individual’. Drawing on a theory of blame, the chapter unpacks the various elements that influence people’s judgement of the agent. It also acknowledges that the judgement process is affected by the dynamics of behavioural interaction, including issues such as mindfulness. Finally, the chapter argues that reflecting on the whole evaluation process, including the different perspectives that people may have on what happened and different reasons for it, can be extremely valuable for enhancing intercultural awareness and promoting positive intercultural relations.
This chapter provides an overview of Part III of the book and outlines the book’s conceptualisation of managing intercultural politeness; that is, managing interpersonal relations across cultures. The chapter approaches the issue from two angles: reactive and proactive politeness. The authors interpret reactive politeness as the behaviour that is instigated by (and hence responds to) an offence and the authors propose that it entails three key elements: perception of an offence; response to that offence; the consequences of that response. In practical terms, this involves apologies, disagreement and conflict. The chapter interprets proactive politeness as the behaviour that seeks to avoid an offence occurring in the first place, as well as behaviour aimed at establishing and building a new relationship. The former is core to traditional politeness theory, but the latter has been studied far less and needs more empirical research and theorising. The chapter ends by overviewing two key cognitive orientations – mindfulness–mindlessness and convergent–divergent accommodation – that, while relevant to all aspects of intercultural politeness, are especially important for managing intercultural politeness.
This chapter provides an overview to Part II of the book, which focuses on the process of making evaluative judgements with regard to politeness. Early in the history of mainstream politeness research, theorists argued that words and phrases are not inherently polite or impolite, but rather are judged as such by participants. Yet for many years there was remarkably little research into the process of interpersonal evaluation. Recently, there has been more attention paid to evaluation, yet there is a need for greater theorisation. This may particularly be the case with regard to politeness in intercultural scenarios, considering that the cultural background of the interactants, the extent to which culture influences the context of the interaction, and other aspects of culture strongly influence politeness evaluations. The chapter outlines the various steps involved in the process of making politeness evaluations. There are five main sections to the chapter: behaviour in context; normalcy zone and triggering of the evaluation process, evaluating behaviour and agent, evaluation warrant and judgement of behaviour and agent. We explore each of these steps in detail in subsequent chapters of Part II.
This chapter provides an introduction to the book. It starts with an introduction of readership, including all those who are interested in intercultural relations – in relating with people who have different national, linguistic, social, ethnic, religious or other backgrounds to ourselves. The focus, as the subtitle indicates, is therefore ‘relating across cultures’ – how people build, maintain and manage relations when communicating across group boundaries of various kinds, such as national, linguistic, ethnic. It then considers the two concepts within the main title of the book: ‘politeness’ and ‘intercultural’. It explains that we take a ‘relating’ perspective to politeness, and it offers a working definition of ‘culture’ as well as the notion of ‘intercultural’. The book takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing together concepts and ideas from pragmatics, intercultural communication and cross-cultural and moral psychology, and we argue that such an interdisciplinary approach is vital for a topic like intercultural politeness. The chapter introduces the book's authors, providing some background to them, so that readers can understand the subjectivity of the authors' positions. The chapter also outlines the types of data the book uses throughout in support of its arguments. The chapter ends by briefly introducing the remaining chapters of the book.
This chapter explores the conceptualisation of interactional politeness and associated research. It investigates three interrelated questions: (1) who studies politeness; (2) what is ‘politeness’ and how is it related to culture; (3) what are the main data types in which the politeness–culture interface can be captured. The chapter first points out that along with pragmaticians – academics specialising in the study of language use – linguistic politeness has been studied across a diverse cluster of areas. Being aware of this diversity is important because in a pursuit of intercultural politeness we should not limit our research to pragmatics only. Following this discussion, the chapter overviews the key features of politeness, by arguing that (1) it is a relational phenomenon, which (2) follows (linguistic) patterns, (3) means different things, depending on who attempts to define (or interpret) it, and which (4) comes into existence partly in interaction, and partly by not engaging in interaction (e.g. a person may get criticised for not doing something in interaction). The chapter argues that in pragmatics insufficient work has been done to capture the politeness–culture interface. Finally, the chapter overviews the main data types in which politeness in intercultural encounters can be studied.