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Title: Harmony through disharmony in online communication : an investigation of rapport management in discussion forums from a perspective of situated learning
Author: Sato, Ami
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 6886
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates how people build and maintain rapport or harmony in interpersonal relations in the context of language learning–related forums in two websites, Japan Reference and Reddit. In the intercultural contexts of these fora, the participants negotiate their beliefs and values about communication alongside learning language, which I suggest is a part of what they learn through the forum activities. The thesis aims to answer the question of what aspects of their language use enable them to build rapport for better experiences in online fora by examining the interactions in Learning Japanese in Japan Reference and /r/Languagelearning in Reddit, drawing on the rapport management model (Spencer-Oatey, 2008b) and some ideas about social learning from the model of situated learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). Herring’s (2004) computer-mediated discourse analysis was applied as the main methodology. I collected 753 threads from Learning Japanese and 832 threads from /r/Languagelearning, which were posted between January 2011 and December 2014. These threads were analysed by quantitative and qualitative methods: (1) I identified the recurrent use of expressions using the two corpora and (2) I closely analysed examples of using some of these recurrent expressions in context, and analysed the interactions where they discuss their communication explicitly. A key finding of this work is that conflicts between participants can occur not only as the result of mismanaging face sensitivities but also inevitably having different behavioural expectations and goals in the particular learning contexts. In this thesis, I demonstrate how the rapport management model helps us to examine both harmonious and disharmonious aspects of interactions. In conclusion, I suggest that disharmonious interaction is also necessary for creating harmony in online forums and interactional reciprocity can be an important linguistic aspect to investigate the construction of rapport.
Supervisor: Tusting, Karin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral