The role of ideology in evaluations of (in)appropriate behaviour in student-teacher relationships in China

Dániel Z. Kádár

Abstract

In this paper I examine Chinese perceptions of (in)appropriateness and offence from a cross-cultural pragmatic point of view, by exploring (in)appropriate evaluations in the context of a major social offence, and the influence of Confucian ideology on people’s evaluative tendencies. By doing so, I aim to contribute to pragmatic understandings of Confucianism as an ideology that underpins evaluative attitudes in Chinese culture. On the theoretical level, I argue that one needs to carefully examine dimensions of ideologies that underlie evaluative tendencies, and also the ways in which ideologies are invoked, rather than making sweeping claims. I believe that is possible to adopt ‘ideology’ as an analytic notion in interpersonal pragmatics and (im)politeness research, but only if the influence of ideology on interpersonal interaction and evaluative tendencies is captured with the aid of qualitative and quantitative evidence, that is, only as far as one avoids using a certain ideology as an umbrella term to analyse culturally-situated data.

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