Event Information:

  • Fri

    Social interaction and (im)politeness in digital communication: Exploring the potential of corpus-related approaches

    9:30am - 5:30pmLancaster University

    A one-day workshop hosted by the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science

    In recent times, there has been lively public interest in online “aggressive” phenomena such as flaming, trolling, and cyberbullying. However, in the field of computer-mediated communication (CMC), whilst some studies have been conducted on the social dynamics of digital media, relatively few have focused specifically on politeness or impoliteness, despite their centrality to social interaction, obvious relevance to digital communication, keen public interest and recent explosion in related academic activity (witness the establishment in 2005 of the Journal of Politeness Research). Corpus-related approaches – typically involving the computational analysis of vast collections of text – to studying the nature of digital communication are still in their infancy. The aim of this workshop is to explore the potential that the array of corpus-related approaches might have for enhancing our understandings of social interaction in digital communication in general, and (im)politeness in particular.

    The workshop will encompass a range of digital communication types, such as email, blogs, texts and tweets. It is not restricted to any particular definition of politeness or impoliteness. Broadly, we understand politeness to be the social spadework that we undertake to oil the wheels of interaction and impoliteness to be the opposite. As far as politeness is concerned, issues in the domain of digital communication might include: What are the politeness practices of particular media (e.g. what are considered polite ways of opening or closing, of achieving particular goals, or of self-disclosing)? How do they vary across types? As far as impoliteness is concerned, issues in the domain of digital communication might include: What are the characteristics of impoliteness-related practices such as flaming, trolling and cyberbullying? How are they to be defined? Why are the new digital media often perceived by the public as sources of impoliteness, and how true is this perception? As far as corpus-related approaches are concerned, issues we might explore include: How is data sourced? What are the ethical issues? How is data transcribed for computational analysis, especially when multiple writers and addressees are involved? How is the social context factored in to the corpus? How can corpus-related approaches handle pragmatic phenomena in general and (im)politeness in particular? What is to be gained from using notions like collocates, keywords and word sketches?

    The workshop will involve a mixture of activities. At its core there will be three presentations by the following speakers:

    • Andrew Kehoe and Ursula Lutzky (Birmingham City University, UK)
    • Ruth Page (University of Leicester, UK)
    • Caroline Tagg (University of Birmingham, UK)

    In addition, we will have discussion panels, and a data exhibition. Regarding the data exhibition, participants may, if they wish, submit samples of data along with very brief descriptions of their research interests to our team. We will apply corpus methods to that data. In the data exhibition, we will present snapshot analyses and discuss methodological issues. (Please see the simple data-submission guidelines if you wish to take advantage of this.)

    Organisers: Jonathan Culpeper and Claire Hardaker