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LINGUIST List 24.1488

Tue Apr 02 2013

Diss: Anthro Ling/Discourse Analysis/Socioling: Clark: 'Safety Talk and Service Culture...'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <lxialinguistlist.org>

Date: 01-Apr-2013
From: Barbara Clark <barbyou-say-tomato.com>
Subject: Safety Talk and Service Culture: Flight attendant discourse in commercial aviation
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Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2013

Author: Barbara L. Clark

Dissertation Title: Safety Talk and Service Culture: Flight attendant discourse in commercial aviation

Dissertation URL: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/7651480/B_Clark_thesis_final.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics
                            Discourse Analysis
                            Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Erez Levon
Colleen Cotter

Dissertation Abstract:

The discourse of commercial aviation flight attendants has historically received
no sociolinguistic attention. To address this gap, this thesis explores how flight
attendants use language in workplace-related contexts to construct their
professional identity and community. I draw on interactional sociolinguistics
(Goffman 1981; Schiffrin 1994; Tannen 1993) and sociological research
(Marschall 2002; Van Maanen and Barley 1984; Williams 1986) to address how
flight attendants use language to orient to occupationally related knowledge and
practices which contribute to the discursive construction of community.


Data come from two sources: 1) A corpus of 150 textual incident reports
submitted by flight attendants to a US government agency which include
summaries and proposed causes of the incidents in flight attendants’ own words.
2) A corpus of 105 unique discussion threads containing 4,043 posts to a
website hosting several discussion forums aimed primarily at flight attendants.
The forums are not affiliated with either government bodies or airline employers
and are a virtual space for flight attendants to discuss aspects of their job away
from occupational demands.


Following Bucholtz and Hall (2004), I show how identity is contextually related
and situationally constructed, and emerges from discursive orientations to
professional practice, indexicality, ideology, and performance. Moreover, there
are certain intersubjective relationships embedded in the discourse which
emerge from and add detail to the situational identity constructed through flight
attendant discourse. Indexical stances and ideologies which are grounded in
institutional training frame and are heightened in the discursive performances of
the reports and forum posts. These ideologies motivate and enhance the existing
institutional, physical, and sociocultural divisions between flight attendants and
pilots, which may have consequences for intercrew cohesion in emergency
situations.



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