Language and power: An empirical analysis of linguistic strategies used in superior-subordinate communication

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Abstract

Importing the anthropological, sociolinguistic theory of 'politeness' into the domain of organizational studies, this article presents results of a laboratory study that illustrates how power is communicated through specific linguistic gestures differentially used by superiors and subordinates throughout daily interchange. The approach taken illustrates how language is amenable to quantitative, as opposed to sheerly qualitative analysis. Contributions of politeness theory to the study of organizational communication, of influence tactics, the distortion of communication in hierarchical relations, and the presumed egalitarianism associated with programmes of workplace participation, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-248
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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