The Problem Of Face Theory

1627 Words7 Pages
Face theory, developed originally by Goffman (1969), is defined as how we view ourselves through the interpretation of others in interaction. A key part of his theory suggests that, in avoiding potential threats to face, defensive (for the self) and protective (for others) measures are employed. Brown and Levinson (1987) expand on this theory. They suggest an individual has a positive and negative face, reflecting our feeling of self-worth and the desire for our thoughts and actions to be unimpeded respectively; this should be constantly maintained. Threats to face, they argue, can be mitigated through positive and negative politeness strategies. Social theorists Watts and Locher challenge this “overextended” (2005: 10) notion of politeness, instead proposing that ‘politic’ behaviour is used in interaction; this is behaviour that is considered ‘appropriate’. These theories will form the foundations of this discussion on the issue of mitigating face threatening acts (FTA’s). The role of context when FTA’s occur amongst family and friends will also be questioned through the analysis of other theories. To investigate, I conducted a 10 minute audio recording of 4 female friends having a discussion in the living room of their student house. While Jade, Katie and Emily have all known each other for over a year and lived together in their first year, Nancy has not known them as long but all are good friends; the transcript for this can be found in the appendix. Firstly, Brown and
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