Politeness Theory

Brown and Levinson’s Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage (Cambridge, 1987) and Barbara O’Keefe’s take on politeness theory had a significant influence on how I think about communication.  Grappling with politeness theory as a rational theory of language (rather than a theory of frequency or of cause and effect) prompted me to ask a different set of questions about social support.  Specifically, it helped me work out the social conditions and discourse features that shaped when advice-giving could be an appropriate and effective response to another’s distress.  My own research on facework is detailed in the Advice-giving and Facework tab.  In addition, the following book chapters give my interpretation of politeness theory and its relevance to interpersonal communication theory.

Goldsmith, D. J., & Normand, E. L. (2014).  Politeness theory: How we use language to save face.  In D. E. Braithwaite, & P. Schrodt (Eds.), Engaging theories of interpersonal communication, 2nd ed. (pp. 267-278). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Goldsmith, D. J., & Donovan-Kicken, E. (2009).  Adding insult to injury:  Face, politeness, and hurt feelings.  In A. Vangelisti (Ed.), Feeling hurt in close relationships (pp. 50-72).  New York: Cambridge.

Goldsmith, D. J. (2009). Politeness theory.  In S. W. Littlejohn & K. A. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (pp. 754-757). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Goldsmith, D. J. (2006).  Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory.  In B. Whaley & W. Samter (Eds.), Explaining communication: Contemporary theories and exemplars (pp. 219-236). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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