Rapport management in online spoken interaction: A cross-cultural linguistic analysis of communicative strategies

Schmidt, Selina (2020) Rapport management in online spoken interaction: A cross-cultural linguistic analysis of communicative strategies. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Abstract

This thesis studies rapport: a harmonious relationship between people. More specifically, it focuses on the creation and maintenance of such a relationship through a process known as rapport management. My analysis looks at specific ways in which people use language to manage their relationships in ViMELF, the corpus of Video-Mediated English as a Lingua Franca Conversations. My research addresses various gaps in rapport research by analysing rapport management in a corpus as an applied example. There is a disconnect between the study of a macro-linguistic concept like rapport (social and interactional strategies) and the micro-linguistic features that help manage rapport. There is also a disconnect between qualitative and quantitative research on rapport. This thesis bridges these gaps by combining qualitative and quantitative approaches and focussing on three linguistic features that affect a specific rapport strategy, that of stance or conversational positioning. Rather than trying to capture rapport in its entirety, this thesis constitutes a new approach to the analysis of rapport strategies and features and their extraction from larger datasets. To achieve that, I ask three research questions: (1) Which linguistic strategies and features are used when managing rapport, (2) How is the rapport management strategy influenced by the medium, the speakers’ backgrounds and idiosyncrasies, and (3) How can corpus linguistic methods be appropriated to analyse a rapport strategy and its realisations in the form of linguistic features?

The knowledge generated with this research is theoretical as well as practical in nature. My thesis contributes to academic knowledge about how the three linguistic features—pronouns, pragmatic markers and laughter—influence how unacquainted speakers positions themselves in conversation and thereby effectively manage rapport. I explore the features’ ambiguity, the different meanings that they take on depending on the context. Speakers either commit to a stance or, because of the ambiguity of the features, avoid doing so—depending on which function is necessary in a particular situation. This makes the features the perfect toolkit for navigating the fragile relationship speakers build with their conversation partner. My research also contributes practical knowledge about how corpus linguistic methods can be appropriated to advance rapport research, which results in a practical output in form of a software tool developed for this purpose. As an essential step in combining quantitative and qualitative methods, the thesis adopts the concept of co-occurrences and applies these to the linguistic features in the spoken corpus data, which has great potential for further research with other features, as it reveals their patterns of use in new ways.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Date: 14 July 2020
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rapport management, Corpus pragmatics, Stance, Co-occurrences, Skype, Positioning, Corpus linguistics, Pragmatics, Pragmatic features, Laughter, Pronouns, Pragmatic markers, Videoconferencing, Software
Subjects: L300 Sociology
Q100 Linguistics
Q300 English studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Media and English > School of English
REF UoA Output Collections > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2021 15:31
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 15:31
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12132

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