[Air-L] CfP: From Face to Facebook: performing (im)politeness in social media environments (SymPol 2010, Basel)

Cornelius Puschmann cornelius.puschmann at uni-duesseldorf.de
Mon Nov 9 07:30:47 PST 2009

*From Face to Facebook: performing (im)politeness in social media

Panel session at the 5th International Symposium on Politeness, 30 June - 2
July 2010, Basel, Switzerland (http://www.sympol.unibas.ch/)

Theresa Heyd (University of Pennsylvania, USA), Cornelius Puschmann
(Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany)

In its earliest days, politeness theory set out to identify “universals in
language use” (Brown and Levinson 1978). Such claims to universality were
later contested, in particular with regard to cultural variation (e.g.
Wierzbicka 1991): norms of appropriateness, concepts of face and other
sociopragmatic aspects are nowadays accepted to be (somewhat)
culture-specific. In the light of such 'variationist' tendencies, it may be
asked whether politeness and self-presentation are also medium- and
technology-specific. Are there new politeness paradigms in online
communication, especially in its most recent forms?

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr are
“technologies of the self” (Foucault) where people do things with words in a
very literal sense. Constructing a digital self via video, images and still
most prominently language ("meforming"; Naaman et al. 2009) and negotiating
it in exchanges with other users are central activities in social media
formats. While facework could previously be classified unambiguously in
terms of linguistic and non-linguistic actions, the digitally constructed
self also "acts" via language when symbolically engaging in interpersonal
activities such as liking, poking, friending, following, banning and muting.
These linguistic quasi-actions replace the means which are available offline
to indicate stance and manage impressions and therefore fulfill an important
function. In a larger sense, it appears that the concept of “face” itself
has taken on a new meaning in digital social media that is simultaneously
more encompassing and more important: establishing and negotiating an online
identity has become one of the central activities of Internet users.

We particularly invite contributions on the following issues:
   * Constructing and maintaining face in social media
   * Performative and metacommunicative acts in social media
   * Consequences and implications of online self exposure: identity
management, identity safety, privacy vs. exposure
   * Performing face in social media vs. Web 1.0 and pre-digital settings
   * The mitigation of face in online/offline interactions.

This panel focuses on the related aspects of self-presentation and symbolic
actions as components of digital face management. We welcome contributions
addressing all forms of online communication; studies regarding more recent
social media are especially welcome. Both theory-building and data-driven
contributions are of interest.

Abstracts (500 words max.) should be submitted by *December 1, 2009*. Please
feel free to contact the panel organizers for more information:
heyd at ldc.upenn.edu
cornelius.puschmann at uni-duesseldorf.de


Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson. 1978. Politeness. Some Universals
in Language Usage. Cambridge: CUP.

Foucault, Michel. 1988. “Technologies of the self.” In Luther H. Martin,
Huck Gutman and Patrick Hutton (eds) Technologies of the Self. Amherst:
University of Massachusetts Press. 16–49.

Naaman, Mor, Jeffrey Boase and Chi-Hui Lai. 2009. “Is it really about me?
Message content in social awareness streams.” CSCW 2010, February 6–10,
2010, Savannah, Georgia, USA. Available at

Wierzbicka, Anna. 1991. Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: The Semantics of Human
Interaction. Berlin: de Gruyter.


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