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Spencer-Oatey, Helen (2013)
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: P1, HM
This article examines ‘relating at work’. Recent theorising in pragmatics has drawn attention to the importance of analysing relations, and yet the pragmatic study of relations is now intertwined so closely with the concept of face (e.g. Arundale, 2010a; Holmes et al., 2011; Locher and Watts 2005, 2008) that it might seem the two are synonymous. In this paper, I review this research from a multidisciplinary perspective, and then report a study on ‘relating at work’ in which leaders and interns were interviewed about their experiences of starting work in a culturally unfamiliar setting. I focus on one dialectic, connectedness–separateness, and report the challenges they described in ‘making contact’. In the discussion section and on the basis of my findings, I argue the following points: (a) relating at work entails a complex web of interrelated facets and ‘smooth relations’ is just one of employees’ relational concerns; (b) Relational Dialectic Theory offers much potential for interpersonal pragmatics; (c) dialectic tensions can occur at the individual as well as the interpersonal/relational levels and an interactional achievement analytic perspective needs to be complemented by an individual perspective; (d) Relational Dialect Theory and Face Theory are complementary to each other and should not be conflated.
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