Politeness and other types of facework: Communicative and social meaning in a television panel discussion

Nieves Hernández-Flores


TV-panel discussions constitute a communicative genre with specific features concerning the situational context, the communicative goals, the roles played by the participants and the acts that are carried out in the interaction. In the Spanish TV-debate Cada día, discourse is characterized as semi-institutional because of having both institutional characteristics – due to its mediatic nature – and conversational characteristics. In the communicative exchanges the social situation of the participants is negotiated by communicative acts, that is, facework is realised. Facework concerns the speakers’ wants of face, both the individual face and the group face. In the present article face is described in cultural terms within the general face wants autonomy and affiliation and in accordance with the roles the speakers assume in interaction. In the analysis of an excerpt from the TV-debate Cada día two types of facework are identified: On the one hand politeness, that is, when an attempted balance between the speaker’s and the addressees’ face is aimed at and, on the other hand, self-facework, which appears when only the speaker’s face is focused on. No samples of the third case of facework, impoliteness, are found in this excerpt. The results of the analysis display the relationship between the communicative purposes of this communicative genre (to inform, to entertain and to convince people of political ideas) and the types of facework (politeness, self-facework) that are identified in the analysed data.

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