politeness theory, performativity, critical studies, face, facework
Journal/Book/Conference Title Title
International Journal of Communication
In this article, we argue that critical communication scholars have largely overlooked the study of politeness as a constitutive component of identity, culture, and power. We offer a critical-performative framework for critical scholars interested in studying politeness as a political, discursive, and embodied act. To develop this agenda, we first outline Brown and Levinson’s postpositivist theory of politeness. We then review three challenges to their use of intentionality, Grice’s cooperative principle, and Goffman’s concept of face. These challenges are located in interactional, traditional critical, and discursive understandings of politeness (respectively). Next, we show how a performative understanding of politeness both encompasses the three challenges and offers a way to understand the role of politeness in identity formation. We conclude by suggesting that ethnographic methods, informed by performance ethnography, provide analytical tools consistent with a performative understanding of politeness.
Department of Communication Studies
Original Publication Date
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
©2019 C. Kyle Rudick and Danielle E. McGeough
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Process now publisher’s version in IR. Creative Commons License 4.0 with non-commerical and no deriviatives. From publisher’s website 9/9/2019 en: Copyright © 2019 (Jiawei Sophia Fu). Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd). Available at http://ijoc.org.