“There’s not a lot of negotiation”

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One way that communities with status or power hierarchy can mark hierarchical relationships is by means of address. Community members may differ in attitude towards the hierarchy and prefer address reflecting imagined or preferred social distance, or social meanings other than the classic power-solidarity semantic of Brown and Gilman (1960). This paper reports on research within an academic unit, in which members of different “ranks,” undergraduate student, graduate student, and faculty, participated in group interviews on the topic of address terms. Different relational and interactional goals emerge for each group. While faculty are sometimes willing to make their varied address preferences clear, students find faculty preferences less than transparent. Graduate students face difficult choices, needing to negotiate address preferences with their undergraduate students as well as with faculty.


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