Doing business and constructing identities through small talk in workplace instant messaging
This paper describes how bilingual colleagues living in Hong Kong make small talk in instant messaging to achieve various business-oriented goals and construct multiple identities in the discursive process. Guided by James Paul Gee’s revised framework of discourse analysis, the analyses evidenced that, overall, colleagues use small talk in instant messages to maintain minimal ties with distant partners, fill in silence during computer work, affect informal decision-making at work, and to diffuse useful surrounding information into business talk. These instances interplay with different affordances provided by the gadgets in the instant messenger interfaces. Such creative usage, together with the perceived nature of online interaction and instant messaging, results in multiple and turbulent identities circulating in the broader context of workplace discourse. The article concludes by arguing that computer-mediated communication has offered participants an emerging modus of interacting socially, beyond the physical and psychological constraints of time and space.
Keywords: small talk, identity, workplace, instant messaging, Hong Kong, computer-mediated discourse analysis, organizational communication
Published online: 14 January 2020
Anandarajan, Murugan, Maliha Zaman, Qizhi Dai, and Bay Arinze
Baron, Naomi S.[ p. 579 ]
2010 “Discourse Structures in Instant Messaging: The Case of Utterance Breaks.” LanguageInternet 7: article 4. Retrieved from http://www.languageatinternet.org/articles/2010/2651
Barron, Anne, and Emily Black
Barton, David, and Carmen Lee
Benwell, Bethan, and May McCreaddie
Bezemer, Jeff, and Gunther Kress
Cameron, A. Frances, and Jane Webster
Cheng, Winnie, and Martin Warren
Chung, Donghun, and Chang Soo Nam
Coposescu, Liliana T.
Coupland, Justine[ p. 580 ]
Coupland, Justine, Nikolas Coupland, and Jeffrey D. Robinson
DiFonzo, Nicholas, Martin J. Bourgeois, Jerry Suls, Christopher Homan, Noah Stupak, Bernard P. Brooks, David S. Ross, and Prashant Bordia
Drew, Paul, and Kathy Chilton
Drew, Paul, and John Heritage
Ellwardt, Lea, Rafael Wittek, and Rudi Wielers
Gee, James P.
Guo, Zixiu, Felix B. Tan, Tim Turner, and Huizhong Xu
Herring, Susan C.
1999 “Interaction Coherence in CMC.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 4 (4). Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol4/issue4/herring.html
2010 “Computer-Mediated Conversation: Introduction and Overview.” LanguageInternet, 7: article 2. Retrieved from http://www.languageatinternet.org/articles/2010/2801
[ p. 581 ]
Holmes, Janet, and Rose Fillary
Holmes, Janet, Sharon Marsden, and Meredith Marra
Holmes, Janet, and Maria Stubbe
Iversen, T. Buschmann, Line Melby, and Pieter Toussaint
Jones, Rodney H.
Ladegaard, Hans J.
Lazzaro-Salazar, Virginia M., Meredith Marra, Janet Holmes, and Bernadette Vine
Mak, Chun Nam Bernie, and Hin Leung Chui
Mak, Chun Nam Bernie, Hin Leung Chui, and Yiqi Liu[ p. 582 ]
Mak, Chun Nam Bernie, and Carmen Lee
Nardi, Bonnie, Steve Whittaker, and Erin Bradner
Perry, Fred L.
Provine, Robert R., Robert J. Spencer, and Darcy Mandell
Quan-Haase, Anabel, Joseph Cothrel, and Barry Wellman
2005 “Instant Messaging for Collaboration: A Case Study of a High-Tech Firm.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 10 (4). Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue4/quan-haase.html.
Ragan, Sandra L.
Ready, Douglas A.
Rosnow, Ralph L.
Sheer, Vivian C.
Stephens, Keri K.
Stubbe, Maria, Chris Lane, Jo Hilder, Elaine Vine, Bernadette Vine, Meredith Marra, Janet Holmes, and Ann Weatherall[ p. 583 ]
Tracy, Karen, and Julie M. Naughton
Valkenburg, Patti M., and Jochen Peter
Van De Mieroop, Dorien
Vine, Bernadette, Susan Kell, Meredith Marra, Janet Holmes