The Performance of Linguistic Politeness in Consumer Accounts

This paper adopts a sociolinguistic approach to analyse and interpret consumer accounts of marketplace experiences. Drawing on Brown and Levinson’s theory of politeness, the paper shows how linguistic politeness functions to establish identity, to mediate social relationships and to negotiate the ‘delicate’ topic of social class in consumer accounts of school choice. These accounts are revealed as polite performances, constructed to avoid negative categorisation, to calibrate the speaker’s social position with that of their interlocutor and to conform to what is considered to be ‘proper social conduct’. The paper concludes that such analysis can reveal the influence of prevailing discourses on individual consumer accounts and can lead to greater linguistic reflexivity in consumer research.


Beverley Hill (2011) ,"The Performance of Linguistic Politeness in Consumer Accounts", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9, eds. Alan Bradshaw, Chris Hackley, and Pauline Maclaran, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 52-54.


Beverley Hill, University of Winchester, UK


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9 | 2011

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