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Title: Safety talk and service culture : flight attendant discourse in commercial aviation
Author: Clark, Barbara L.
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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The discourse of commercial aviation flight attendants has historically received no sociolinguistic attention. To address this gap, this thesis explores how flight attendants use language in workplace-related contexts to construct their professional identity and community. I draw on interactional sociolinguistics (Goffman 1981; Schiffrin 1994; Tannen 1993) and sociological research (Van Maanen and Barley 1984; Williams 1986; Marschall 2002) to address how flight attendants use language to orient to occupationally related knowledge and practices which contribute to the discursive construction of community. Data come from two sources: 1) A corpus of 150 textual incident reports submitted by flight attendants to a US government agency which include summaries and proposed causes of the incidents in flight attendants’ own words. 2) A corpus of 105 unique discussion threads containing 4,043 posts to a website hosting several discussion forums aimed primarily at flight attendants. The forums are not affiliated with either government bodies or airline employers and are a virtual space for flight attendants to discuss aspects of their job away from occupational demands. Following Bucholtz and Hall (2004), I show how identity is contextually related and situationally constructed, and emerges from discursive orientations to professional practice, indexicality, ideology, and performance. Moreover, there are certain intersubjective relationships embedded in the discourse which emerge from and add detail to the situational identity constructed through flight attendant discourse. Indexical stances and ideologies which are grounded in institutional training frame and are heightened in the discursive performances of the reports and forum posts. These ideologies motivate and enhance the existing institutional, physical, and sociocultural divisions between flight attendants and pilots, which may have consequences for intercrew cohesion in emergency situations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme (ORSAS)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Linguistics ; Sociolinguistics