Power and Politeness: A Study of Social Interaction in Philippine Higher Education Classrooms

Victoria, Mabel Paderez (2008). Power and Politeness: A Study of Social Interaction in Philippine Higher Education Classrooms. MRes thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f28d


Drawing upon naturalistic contextualized data, this study aims to expand current understanding of power and politeness in three higher education classrooms in the Philippines. It is particularly concerned to explore the usefulness of a politeness theory in describing the linguistic strategies that professors and students use when performing potentially face threatening acts. On the basis of data consisting of observation notes and audio recording, it is argued that (1) the difference in power between professors and students influences their choice of linguistic strategies. Professors used bald on-record language to ask lesson-related questions but oriented towards positive politeness rather than negative politeness when performing potentially face-threatening acts; students invoked negative politeness markers such as formal address forms, deference and hedging; (2) Pedagogical goals, lesson content, interactional context, and the presence and/or number of over hearers also exert pressure on the linguistic realisation of politeness. (3) The authoritative and discursive power of the professor over the students appears to be relatively fixed and unchallenged. But as the current investigation finds, there is another dimension to the professor-student relationship outside of the four walls of the classroom, where students, through one-to-one consultations, on-line discussions and journaling are afforded a less exposed, less face-threatening space.

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