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People's Positions In The World Are Shaped By Discourse With Reference To Face, Power And Solidarity.

2218 words - 9 pages

In many ways people's positions in the world are their positions in discourse, since the power to shape the world is to a large degree the power to shape how people talk about the world' (Johnstone). Discuss with reference to the categorisation of participants by each other and to the notions of face and power and solidarity.This essay chooses to look at the recent controversy surrounding the alleged racist row in TV's Big Brother house. The row itself took place between two participants - Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty - and caused a wave of controversy that spread worldwide: this itself was largely based on the so-called racist bullying that took place. This essay will focus on one particular argument that took place between the participants in the house, and try to determine whether the cry of 'racism' (from the media) was justified, or whether the incident was more of an issue of social class, and personal ideologies.Even in this age of modern technology, the most common kind of communication between people is still that of face-to-face discourse. This discourse takes place on a day-to-day basis and encompasses everything we do, thus leading some researchers and linguists to suggest, "life is in many ways a series of conversations"(Cameron, 2001:7). When people enter into any form of discourse, they do so with some form of prior knowledge of how the discourse should proceed, or what the outcome (or purpose) of the discourse should be. Conversations, themselves, have a set of conventions that are generally adhered to by each participant, whether consciously or subconsciously. Fairclough (1992:75) suggests these conventions should be called "interactional control features" and these include "turn taking, exchange structure, topic control, formulation, modality, politeness and ethos." However, in any argument, these conventions are not adhered to, and breakdown is more common - as we can see with this argument.During her time in the house, Jade used the term 'Shilpa Poppadom', which got a response from her speech community group in the form of laughter, and reinforced her position in the group. To Jade, her comment is not being used in a racist way, she just appears not to have the intelligence to realise how offensive this would be to Shilpa and to Asian people as a whole. Jade was feeling threatened by Shilpa and her popularity, and wanted to make herself more popular, (something which can often be achieved through laughter). However, it could be argued that the media picked up on this term, branding Jade and her community group racist, and thus helped blow the situation out of proportion.One of the most common breakdowns in any discourse is that of interruptions. In the argument (or data) in question there are many interruptions: these generally happen where Jade does not let Shilpa finish what she is saying. Usually interruptions signal a breakdown in the turn taking system, and may be repaired, but as both participants here are already having...

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