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Conference Information

Full Title: Face Work and Social Media

Location: Hildesheim, Germany
Start Date: 23-May-2013 - 25-May-2013
Contact: Kristina Bedijs
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Please note: See conference website for description in Spanish, French, and German!

Politeness and face work are now well-established concepts in linguistic pragmatics. Politeness theories state that each individual has, on the one hand, ‘positive face’ needs for acceptance and social integration and, on the other hand, ‘negative face’ needs for autonomy and personal freedom. These social demands are renegotiated in every communication situation. Communicative exchange is thus for the most part shaped by actions concerning one’s own or another’s face. This process is called face work. Strategies of politeness or impoliteness are thus always related to face work.

In recent years, research has focused on the question of politeness in computer mediated communication (CMC), for example in analyses of e-mail or chat communication. The field of communication in social media, however, has not yet been investigated. This includes forums, blogs, Twitter and social networks, which allow users to generate content with little technical effort. Other users have the possibility to react to these contributions, which often leads to a communicative structure similar to that of a dialogue, but differing from the latter in some essential aspects: (near) asynchronity of the communication situation, pseudonymity, lack of physical copresence, impossibility to send nonverbal signals via the body or the voice. In spite of these restraining factors, we can observe that users of social media develop specific linguistic strategies that allow them to achieve finely differentiated communication, especially concerning the relationship aspect.

Face work and politeness play a particular role in this process, all the more so because not all common strategies used in face-to-face situations can easily be translated into CMC, thus making it necessary, for example, to add new visual means to the verbal expression.

The conference ‘Face Work and Social Media’ will therefore focus on communication in social online formats. We will investigate whether and how users develop specific linguistic strategies for the phatic – and in a broader sense pragmatic – aspect of communication, whether particular constraints of the formats necessitate a different handling of face work, and whether users apply new strategies, perhaps even in a reflected way.
Linguistic Subfield: Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: None
Subject Language Family: Romance
LL Issue: 24.420

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