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Situational transformations: The offensive-izing of an email message and the public-ization of offensiveness

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This paper raises concerns about the tenor of 21st century interaction by identifying a tendency whereby relatively innocuous, canonically private communication is transformed into public communication deemed offensive enough to attract institutional or legal sanction. To understand examples of this tendency, it applies Goffman’s architecture of interaction to email communication and proposes the notion of situational transformation to encapsulate reframing processes involving footing, face and participation framework. Through these processes (to which, it is shown, the email medium is especially vulnerable) and a discourse of civility, the private becomes public and opposition becomes offence.
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Keywords: civility; email communication; face; footing; frame; interaction; participation framework; public/private

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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