When is an email really offensive? Argumentativity and variability in evaluations of impoliteness

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Title When is an email really offensive? Argumentativity and variability in evaluations of impoliteness
Author Haugh, Michael Bevan
Journal Name Journal of Politeness Research
Editor Chris Christie
Year Published 2010
Place of publication Berlin
Publisher Mouton de Gruyter
Abstract The analysis in this paper centres on an email exchange between a lecturer and a student at the University of Auckland which resulted in the dismissal of that lecturer. This dismissal gave rise to significant controversy, both off- and online, as to whether the email itself was simply “intemperate” and “angry”, or more seriously “offensive” and “racist”. Through a close analysis of the interpretations of the emails by the lecturer and student, as well as online evaluations made on blogs and discussion boards, it becomes apparent that the inherent discursivity of evaluations of impoliteness arises not only from different perceptions of norms, but also from the ways in which commentators position themselves vis-à-vis these evaluations. It also emerges that the relative level of discursive dispute is mediated by the technological and situational characteristics of the CMC medium in which these evaluations occurred. It is concluded that research into various forums of online interaction provides a unique window into the inherent variability and argumentativity of perceptions of offensive behaviour, as a public record of discursive disputes surrounding particular alleged violations of norms of appropriateness can be (re)scrutinized in such forums.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2010.002
Copyright Statement Copyright 2010 Walter de Gruyter & Co. KG Publishers. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 6
Issue Number 1
Page from 7
Page to 31
ISSN 1612-5681
Date Accessioned 2010-09-27
Language en_AU
Research Centre Griffith Centre for Cultural Research; Griffith Institute for Educational Research
Faculty Faculty of Humanities and Social Science
Subject Discourse and Pragmatics
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/34302
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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