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Book: Face and Face Practices in Chinese Talk-in-Interaction

Chapter: An interactional pragmatics approach to investigating face practices

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.29845


Chapter 3 describes the data sets, the theoretical framework and the contextual background of this project. The participants in the data are insurance company agents, their related clients and people involved in department store industry. Since business people in the insurance industry in Taiwan have considerable opportunities to negotiate insurance or business cases with their clients, they provide useful data to be examined in relation to face practices in business contexts. Therefore, this book seeks to provide insight through an interactional analysis of Taiwanese face, drawing from emic conceptualisations of mianzi and lian elicited through ethnographic analysis and post-recording interviews. These were employed in order to justify the analysis of the projecting and interpreting of face by the participants in interactions, and thereby gain an understanding of how face is interactionally achieved in business contexts. With the data from ethnographic and post-recording interviews, it is also hoped that those methodologies can support the emic conceptualisations of face elicited from Chinese speakers, elaborating the interplay between cognitive and relational dimensions of face. Following up the weaknesses in the field discussed in Chapter 2, I further argue that the unsolved issues can be addressed by drawing on Face Constituting Theory (FCT) (Arundale 2006, 2009, 2013) to explore the interactional achievement of face, focusing in particular on business negotiations conducted in a mixture of Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese. In such contexts, business people and clients frequently encounter situations associated with face, and thus it is very salient in doing business, due largely in part to the importance of achieving a balance between profits and a good reputation in the business world (Chang & Haugh 2013). Drawing from both etic and emic perspectives, this book demonstrates that the dialectic of connection and separateness proposed in FCT is an integral part of interpersonal communication. The interconnection and interplay of cognitive and relational aspects of face is investigated through an interactional analysis employing FCT. The contextual background of business settings is also presented in this chapter. The data sets mainly involve both dyadic and multiparty business interactions in which insurance agents’ visits to their clients and mediations of financial compensation are examined. Further details and conventions of business practices in the selected business industry of this research are therefore explained in this chapter.

Chapter Contributors

  • Wei-Lin Chang ( - changm) 'University of Wollongong'