Politeness strategies and power relations in disagreement

2015 IJRSLL – Volume 4 Issue 2


Heidari, Afroozeh*
Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Iran (afroozheidari@gmail.com)

Eslami-Rasekh, Abbass
University of Isfahan, Iran (Abbaseslamirasekh@yahoo.com)

Simin, Shahla
University of Isfahan, Iran (shahlasimin@yahoo.com)


The speech act of disagreement is one of the fairly neglected areas of research in the Iranian context. The present study seeks to investigate this inherently threatening act by young male and female Farsi speakers under gender and power differential contexts. To collect the needed data one hundred participants (50 males and 50females) randomly selected from among a population of undergraduate and graduate students of Isfahan and Najafabad universities were asked to complete a discourse completion test (DCT) designed by the researchers. The respondents were to read six natural situations, and react to them via making disagreements. As the major focus of the study was the role that gender and power play in the application of politeness strategies, the participants were expected to disagree with two higher power interlocutors (one male and one female), two peers (one male and one female) and two addressees with lower power status (one male and one female). In order to analyze the units of disagreement, Muntigl and Turnbull’s taxonomy (1995) was employed. Students’ responses were further compared with Brown and Levinson’s politeness strategies. The results revealed that although both males and females are concerned about the power status of interlocutors and try to apply the appropriate politeness strategies in their disagreements, females are more cautious even when there is a high degree of solidarity.

Keywords: speech act; disagreement; power; strategies of politeness


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsll.2014.856

*Corresponding Author