Disagreeing to agree: Conflict, (im)politeness and identity in a computer-mediated community


Recent research on politeness has attempted to re-examine the seminal work of Brown and Levinson (1987) and refine the framework to be more applicable to a wider variety of circumstances (Watts, 2003; Spencer-Oatey, 2005). Although, as Locher (2004) notes, there have been several empirical studies building on Brown and Levinson's (1987) framework of politeness, there are relatively few studies which explore the dynamics of these newer models in empirical research. This empirical study addresses this gap by exploring how expectations of (im)politeness are negotiated within an e-mail community. Examination of the communicative practices indicate that, in this e-community, the norms for interaction within the community of practice (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet, 1999; Lavé and Wenger, 1991; Holmes and Meyerhoff, 1999) merge with the norms of (polite) interaction within the computer medium to create a unique set of expectations for what constitutes polite behavior in a computer-mediated setting. Deviation from these norms frequently results in conflict, but the (active) negotiation of norms of politeness in this community of practice, or C of P (through conflict) give group members an opportunity to (re)negotiate the group identity. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Journal of Pragmatics