A Genre Approach to the Study of Im-politeness

In: International Review of Pragmatics


This paper argues that genre notions, as understood by (Fairclough, 2003), can provide an overarching unit of analysis to accommodate both top-down and bottom-up analyses of impoliteness. These notions are here applied to the study impoliteness within an institutional genre: news interviews. Impoliteness is seen as the driving force behind a new genre, "news as confrontation", whose communicative goal is to reaffirm a view of the world. The multifunctionality of impoliteness in this context has been related to a mismatch between the introduction of impoliteness as a novel staple in the news as confrontation shows, and the unchanged social expectations of politeness as the default term in social interaction. At the level of the relationship between interviewee and interviewer, impoliteness manifests itself both at the lexico-grammatical level and interactionally. However, impoliteness is used to create rapport between the interviewer and the overhearing audience. Thus, incivility toward those guests who differ ideologically from the audience has to be assessed as rapport building, and seen as constitutive rather than disruptive of communal life. I provide two examples of the new genre by providing an in-depth analysis of two interviews by Bill O'Reilly for Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor the epitome of news as confrontation shows.

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