Panel en IPRA – Conferencia 14 (2015 Antwerp)

Compartimos la participación del Programa EDICE, representado por la Dra. María Bernal (Universidad de Estocolmo), en el panel «Face Revisited: A Valid Concept for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity?» durante la Conferencia 14 de la IPRA en Antwerp (2015). El panel se conforma también por los doctores Thomas Johnen, Bernd Meyer y Ulrike Schröder. Quienes deseen participar como expositores en el panel, pueden enviar sus resúmenes a antes del 15 de septiembre.

Transcribimos a continuación, en inglés, la presentación de este panel.

14th IPRA conference 2015 (Antwerp, Belgium, July, 26th – 31st, 2015)

(María Bernal, Thomas Johnen, Bernd Meyer & Ulrike Schröder)

60 years after Goffman’s first article on face-work (Goffman 1955), the concept of face has been widely applied in pragmatics. One of its most prominent further developments can be observed within the field of Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory (Brown / Levinson 1978 and 1987), in which the sub-concepts of positive and negative face as well as face-threatening acts (FTAs) are elaborated as having a universal impact. However, scholars from different backgrounds have challenged the universality claim as well as the applicability of the FTA’s classification in real world interactions: Matsumoto (1988) from a Japanese, Gu (1990) and Mao (1994) from a Chinese, and Nwoye (1992) from an Igbo point of view, de Kadt (1998) and Grainger / Mills / Sibanda (2010) with regard to Southern African languages, and Schröder (2014) with respect to German-Brazilian intercultural interactions, to cite only some examples.

For instance, criticism from Asia and Africa points out that for their cultures, the social and communitarian aspect of face has not been considered. For South African culture, for example, traditional concepts like ubuntu and hlonipha (‘paying of respect’) are seen as important in this context. South African scholars conceive Brown / Levinson’s politeness theory as a typical Western concept due to their focus on the invidual with its particular intentions and wants. But even scholars from the Western hemisphere like Kerbrat-Orecchioni (1992), Meier (1995), Bargiela-Chiappini (2003) and Bravo (2004) have criticized this approach. Kerbrat-Orecchioni (1992) doesn’t agree with the restriction implied in the notion of ‘face-threatening acts’ and introduces the concept of face-flattering acts (FFA): this concept encompasses acts oriented toward the strengthening of the addressee’s positive face. Bravo’s critique from a Hispanic point of view and her alternative proposal in some way correspond to the critiques formulated by the Asian and African scholars cited above. She introduces the concepts of affiliation and autonomy to include the social and individual dimensions of face (see also Hernández Flores 2004). Spencer-Oatey (2008), too, proposes a more holistic view on face through a cultural prism by introducing the concept of ‘rapport management’. Accordingly, Ting-Toomey & Oetzel (2007) suggest that different, culturally determined conflict styles should be conceived as a result of the interplay between ‘self-face concern’ and ‘other-face concern’ which translates into two key conflict patterns labeled as ‘self-enhancement’ and ‘self-effacement verbal style’.

Recently, the theoretical discussion on face has restarted (Arundale 2013a, Haugh 2013, Hernández Flores 2013) and has initiated a debate about the notion itself being the appropriate metaphor to deal with the interpersonal level of communication (Arundale 2013b).

The aim of this panel is to bring together scholars who want to discuss the notion of face from the viewpoint of different cultural backgrounds. We welcome papers based on empirical data analysis, as well as theoretical proposals based on a larger sample of empirical studies.

Please send your abstract (max. 500 words) to before September 15th, 2014. Each 30-minute slot includes twenty minutes for presentation and ten minutes for discussion. Please note that presenters have to be/become IPrA members for two successive years (2014/2015). For further guidelines and general information about the conference see:



  • Arundale, Robert B. (2013a): “Face as research focus in interpersonal pragmatics: relational and emic perspectives”, in: Journal of Pragmatics 58, 108-120.
  • Arundale, Robert B. (2013b): “Is face the best metaphor?”, in: Pragmática sociocultural 1, 282-297.
  • Bargiela-Chiappini, Francesca (2003): “Face and politeness: (new) insights for old (concepts), in: Journal of Pragmatics 35, 1453–1469.
  • Bravo, Diana (2004): “Tensión entre universalidad y relatividad en las teorías de la cortesía”, in: Bravo, Diana / Briz, Antonio (eds.): Pragmática sociocultural: estudios sobre el discurso de cortesía en español. Barcelona: Ariel, 15-37.
  • Brown, Penelope / Levinson, Stephen (1978): “Universals in language usage: Politeness phenomena”, in: Goody; Esther N. (ed.): Questions and politeness: strategies in social interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 56-311.
  • Brown, Penelope / Levinson, Stephen (1987): Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge University Press.
  • Goffman Erving (1955): “On face-work: an analysis of ritual elements in social interaction”, in: Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes 18, 213-231.
  • Grainger, Karen / Mills, Sara / Sibanda, Mandla (2010): “ ‘Just tell us what do do’: Southern African face and its relevance to intercultural communication”, in: Journal of Pragmatics 42, 2158-2171.
  • Gu, Yuego (1990): “Politeness phenomena in modern Chinese”, in: Journal of Pragmatics, 14, 237-257.
  • Haugh, Michael (2013): “Disentangling face, facework and im/politeness”, in: Pragmática sociocultural 1, 46-73.
  • Hernández Flores, Nieves (2004): “La cortesía como la búsqueda del equilibrio de la imagen social”, in: Bravo, Diana / Briz, Antonio (eds.): Pragmática sociocultural: estudios sobre el discurso de cortesía en español. Barcelona: Ariel, 95-108.
  • Hernández Flores, Nieves (2013): “Actividad de imagen: caracterización y tipología en la interacción comunicativa / Facework: characteristics and typology in communicative interaction”, in: Pragmática sociocultural 1:2, 175-198.
  • Kadt, Elisabeth de (1998): “The concept of face and its applicability of the Zulu language”, in: Journal of Pragmatics 29, 173-191.
  • Kerbrat-Orecchioni, Catherine (1992): Les interactions verbales, vol. II. Paris : Armand Collin.
  • Mao, LuMing Robert (1994): “Beyond politeness theory: ‘Face’ revisited and renewed”, in: Journal of Pragmatics 21, 451-486.
  • Matsumoto, Yoshiko (1988): “Reexamination of the universality of face: politeness phenomena in Japanese”, in: Journal of Pragmatics 12, 403-426.
  • Meier, Ardith J. (1995): “Passages of politeness”, in: Journal of Pragmatics 24, 381-92.
  • Nwoye, Onuigbo G. (1992): Linguistic politeness and socio-cultural variations of the notion of face” in: Journal of Pragmatics 18, 309-328.
  • Schröder Ulrike. (2014). “The interplay of politeness, conflict styles, rapport management and metacommunication in Brazilian-German interaction”, in: Intercultural Pragmatics 11, 57-82.
  • Spencer-Oatey, Helen. (2008). “Face, (Im)Politeness and Rapport”. In: Spencer-Oatey, Helen (Ed.). Culturally Speaking. Culture, Communication and Politeness Theory. London: Continuum, 11-47.
  • Ting-Toomey, Stella / Oetzel, John. (2007). “Intercultural Conflict: A Culture-Based Situational Model”. In: Cooper, Pamela J. / Calloway-Thomas, Carolyn. / Simonds, Cheri. J. (Eds.). Intercultural Communication. A Text with Readings. Pearson Education, Boston, 121-130.