7. Face, identity and interactional goals
Face, Communication and Social Interaction - Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini
Helen Spencer-Oatey [+]
University of Warwick
The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that the effective study of face needs to take an identity perspective that is action-oriented. This is important because it will help us understand the face concerns that emerge dynamically in interaction as significant to the interlocutors. Much work in face and politeness theory takes an a priori approach to face sensitivity. Brown and Levinson (1987), for example, argue that certain speech acts are intrinsically face-threatening to either the speaker or the hearer, and Leech (2005) maintains that some types of illocutionary goals, such as requests or criticism of a hearer, compete or are at odds with the social goal of maintaining good communicative relations. In this chapter, I argue that such an a priori approach ignores the dynamic aspect of people’s face sensitivities. Furthermore, much work in face and politeness theory has focused on the face concerns of the hearer and has paid less attention to those of the speaker. In this chapter, I argue that a speaker’s own face concerns may emerge as crucially important in authentic interaction, and that a speaker’s self-presentational concerns thus need to be incorporated into the study of face and given equal weighting to those of the hearer.