Edited by Dániel Z. Kádár and Juliane House
[Pragmatics 30:1] 2020
► pp. 40–63
This paper examines the ways in which mediators deploy the rite of public shaming in the activity type of public mediation, as a pragmatic device by means of which they exert social control. Our data consists of episodes of public mediation events in rural China, aired in the Chinese Television. Our analytic framework is anchored to the model of interactional relational rituals: we interpret shaming as a morally loaded communal interactional practice, which the mediator can deploy due to their ratified role, but only within frame of the ritual activity type, and with the communal goal of resolving the conflict. Thus, while ritual forms of shaming may be interactionally intensive – e.g. the person who inflicts shame may inflict shame with little mitigation to put pressure on the shamed person – strict rights and obligations regulate the behaviour of the mediator who needs to act as a ‘moral educator’.
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