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Teasing as a practice of managing delicate issues in institutional talk – a case study

Issue: Vol 5 No. 3 (2020)

Journal: East Asian Pragmatics

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/eap.39613


This paper takes the practice of teasing in institutional talk as its focus despite the common belief that teasing normally occurs in mundane conversations. It turns out that teasing can effectively perform the tasks of social control and tension management in institutional interactions. With detailed analyses of the mechanisms that can be employed to resolve delicate issues in institutional contexts as the background, we propose that teasing as a social action can enable conversational participants to express and tackle the underlying conflicts or problems in institutional encounters. The present research also probes into the tacit maneuvering of the teasing speaker and the teasing recipient’s identities or category memberships achieved or built up by minor transgressions, deviant claims, deontic assertions, and (dis)affiliation displays. This study contributes to the understanding of dynamic identity construction in social encounters and overall tension management in institutional contexts as well.

Author: Chuntao Li

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