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Institutional apologies in UK higher education: getting back into the black before going into the red

Merrison, Andrew and Davies, B.L. and Goddard, A. (2007) Institutional apologies in UK higher education: getting back into the black before going into the red. Journal of politeness research language behaviour culture, 3 (1). pp. 39-63.

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Abstract

A small corpus of student e-mail apologies to academic staff was collected
in order to investigate the nature and structure of the apology act. The
event apologized for can vary in two independent dimensions: whether it is
internal to the discourse or not, and whether it concerns a past, present, or
predicated future act. Much of the data consisted of apologies occurring
alongside other acts: the apology was often not the main business. Why,
then, do students apologize to staff, particularly when apology is a minor
function? The concepts of equity and equilibrium are used to explicate this
usage: apologies are employed to pay debts/gain credit within this institutional
relationship. A previously undescribed apology strategy which is focused
on improving the writer’s standing as a “good student” or “good
person” (and thus their credit balance) is also identified. This strategy �
which we have termed but-justification - is used to show that although
an offence may have been committed, such behaviour is not indicative of
the student’s “right relationship” and “pious attitude” (Goffman 1971:
118) to their institutional role qua student.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: 10.1515/PR.2007.003
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
School/Department: School of Languages & Linguistics
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/138

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