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Gender and Interaction revision

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Susan Lansdown

on 16 April 2013

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Transcript of Gender and Interaction revision

Revision Gender and Interaction Robin Lakoff ‘Language and Woman’s Place’
(1975) Deborah Tannen Deborah Tannen claims that, because men and women tend to form friendships in childhood in a sexually segregated way, differences in speech can be traced to the different motivations/ways of interacting. Deborah Cameron argued that ‘women’s language’ acted to maintain their subordinate status in society.
claimed that many women’s language features suggest low confidence.
identified a series of features of 'women's language'. Make sure
you're wise
to gender theory... Features of
'Women's language' Affective adjectives
Emphatic stress
Hypercorrect grammar
Precise colour terms Rising intonations
Super-polite forms
Tag questions
The intensifier ‘so’
Vocabulary of woman’s work The Deficit or Dominance Approach Robin Lakoff’s theory is known as a ‘deficit’ or 'dominance' approach. It has been argued that by highlighting issues in women's language, men's language is treated as the standard. This suggests that women's language had something inherently 'wrong' with it. It has triggered criticism ... Janet Holmes, in the early 1980s, broke down Lakoff’s distinction of women’s use of tag questions further... Janet Holmes Referential – signal factual uncertainty or a lack of information e.g. ‘The film is on Channel 4, isn’t it?’
Affective (softening) – weakening the tone of a criticism or command, e.g. ‘Give me that hairbrush, would you?’
Affective (facilitative) – expressing solidarity or intimacy e.g. ‘We’ve never liked musicals, have we?’ Janet Holmes and tag questions
1983 Her findings supported Lakoff’s assertion that women used more tag questions in their speech, but it also provided further insight into the way in which they were used.

Men were found to use question tags more often to express uncertainty while women use them largely to facilitate communication. Janet Holmes' findings Janet Holmes also explored the differences in complimentary language in same and mixed gender speech.
Her hypothesis was that women use compliments to build connections, while men use compliments to make evaluative judgments. For example:
Female; “I love your hair” This is to create a connection between the two women.
Male; “nice car” This is not used to create a connection but rather make an evaluative judgement on the car. Complimentary Language Zimmerman and West suggested that in mixed sex conversations, men are more likely to interrupt than women.
In 11 mixed-sex conversations they found men used 46 interruptions but women only used 2
Zimmerman and West found that since men interrupt more often, then they are dominating conversation or, at least, attempting to do so. Zimmerman and West Beattie criticised Zimmerman and West's study of interruptions as too small and unrepresetative (they were all white, middle class and under 35).
Beattie notes: “The problem with this (small sample) is that you might simply have one very voluble man in the study which has a disproportionate effect on the total.”
In his larger study on interruptions, Beattie found that women interrupted men 33.8% of the time, and men interrupted women 34.1% of the time. Criticisms Girls tend to be more group oriented and to have equal relationships, with an emphasis on sharing and on relating to and nurturing each other.

Boys’ play is more hierarchical and competitive.  She claims that these differences are reflected in speech styles as well.  In childhood... Status support
Independence intimacy
Advice understanding
Information feelings
Orders proposals
Conflict compromise Tannen's six contrasts Male Female Cameron refers to a review of 56 research studies.
She notes that status seems to be a more important factor than gender.
‘The basic trend, especially in formal and public contexts, is for higher-status speakers to talk more than lower-status ones.’ There is no difference... Language and communication matter more to women than to men; women talk more than men.
Women are more verbally skilled than men.
Men use language to get things done, whereas women want to make connections to other people. Men talk more about facts, whereas women talk more about people, relationships and feelings.
Men use language competitively, for status; women use language cooperatively, for harmony.
These differences routinely lead to "miscommunication" between the sexes, with each sex misinterpreting the other's intentions. This causes problems especially in heterosexual relationships. Cameron identifies a series of myths about language and gender: Cameron's myths: O’Barr and Atkins •Commented on Lakoff’s findings
•Language is situation-specific
•Concerns authority and power
•Studied courtroom cases for 30 months as well as politeness in courtrooms •Language in conversation depends on who has the authority/power in conversation (rather than the gender)
•Challenged Lakoff as they found during their courtroom studies that Lakoff’s proposed “women’s language” components were not necessarily down to being a woman but due to being powerless
•Tape recordings of court proceedings in California were transcribed and coded and the findings suggested that judges used significant politeness, regardless of gender, to redress the many face-threatening acts judges perform as part of their careers.
•O’Barr and Atkins suggest that instead of focusing future research on gender differences, we should examine underlying social/situational factors. O'Barr and Atkins - their views Cheris Kramarae
(Muted Group Theory) 1974 •Muted group are people with little power and who struggle to gain a voice
•Muted group theory was first proposed by Edwin Ardener and was then developed into a linguistic theory by Kramarea. •Kramarae says that language is a man-made construction
•Women cannot express their ideas fully with the language which was created by men.
•Supported by Spender in 1980 in her book ‘Man Made Language.’
3 assumptions of muted group theory:
1.Women perceive the world differently from men because of different experiences and activities rooted in the division of labour
2.Men are politically dominant and suppress women’s ideas from public support
3.Women must convert their unique ideas, experiences and meanings into male languages in order to be heard. Muted Group Theory Jennifer Coates Coates looks at all-female conversation and builds on Tannen’s ideas. She argues that all-woman conversation can fall into 1 of 4 categories:
House talk
Chatting 1.House talk; the exchange of information connected with the female role as an occupation
2.Scandal; judging others behaviour and women in particular
3.Bitching; overt expression of women’s anger at their restricted role and inferior status. They express this in private and to other women only. The women who bitch are not expecting change; they want only to make their complaints in an environment where their anger will be understood and expected
4.Chatting; the most intimate form of gossip Coates' categories of female conversation: Pamela Fishman •'The Work Women Do' (1978)
•In mixed sex conversation, believes men talk twice as much as women
•Women frequently use tag questions
•Fishman questions Lakoff’s theories – Lakoff argues that women’s questions show insecurity but Fishman suggests questions are an attribute of interactions.
•Women frequently use tag questions to maintain and start a conversation with males.
•Women use questions to show dominance in the conversation and to get a response from men in the conversation.
•Women use tag questions four times more than men in conversation.
•Women use questions in conversation because men don’t respond to declaratives or only minimal responses.
Geoffrey Beattie In 1981, Beattie recorded 10 hours of tutorial discussion and 557 interruptions compared with 55 recorded by Zimmerman and West.
Beattie found that men interrupted slightly more than women but by only a slight margin so it was statistically insignificant.
Beattie suggests that it is a social status of males and females that inspires them to utilise interruptions in conversation. Pamela Fishman Victoria deFrancisco •Dissatisfied with conversations with men, and wanted to build on Fishman’s research but with views included
•Men were more silent and their behaviours silenced women e.g. men tried to silence women by cautioning them not to worry or patronising them
•Women were bothered by the men being non-responsive Victoria deFrancisco Study information
The participants were asked to record various conversations of their everyday life. Interviews were conducted within one week of the tape recordings and lasted an average of 90 minutes. There were seven couples in the study who were married.
Men were responsible for 64% of “no responses”. The interruptions were rarely listed as a complaint about their partners but women had a problem with men not responding.
deFrancisco found several indicators which suggested that communication was more important for women. Women spoke more but had far less turn taking violations. Personal emotions or concerns were rarely raised as a topic but they were all unsuccessfully raised by women.
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