Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper investigates facework and identity construction on a pro-community water fluoridation Facebook page, drawing on rapport management (Spencer-Oatey 2000) and Culpeper’s (199620102011) taxonomy of impoliteness in English. In contrast to previous work on conflictual political talk on social media, which focuses largely on right/left or socially conservative/progressive polarised topics, it addresses discourse on a topic where conflict is between factions aligned with or against the scientific establishment. The paper shows members of an activist group engaging in face-aggravating behaviour against an ideologically opposed commenter. Even when they profess to be educating the commenter, the core goals of their behaviour are enhancing their own quality and identity face within the group by antagonising the outsider; participants construct an expert identity through performing superior intelligence and education, expressed through displays of scientific knowledge and creative forms of linguistic impoliteness.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Anderson, Ashley A., and Heidi E. Huntington
    2017 “Social Media, Science, and Attack Discourse: How Twitter Discussions of Climate Change Use Sarcasm and Incivility”. Science Communication39 (5): 598–620. doi:  10.1177/1075547017735113
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1075547017735113 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bhuvana, N., and Arul I. Aram
    2015 “A Study on Climate Change Discourse in Facebook of Greenpeace”. Journal of Environmental Research and Development; Bhopal10 (1): 201–10.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Block, Karen
    2009 “Deep Structure and Controversy: Re-Reading the Fluoridation Debate”. Health Sociology Review18 (3): 246–59. doi:  10.5172/hesr.2009.18.3.246
    https://doi.org/10.5172/hesr.2009.18.3.246 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bou-Franch, Patricia, and Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich
    2014 “Conflict Management in Massive Polylogues: A Case Study from YouTube”. Journal of Pragmatics73: 19–36. doi:  10.1016/j.pragma.2014.05.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.05.001 [Google Scholar]
  5. Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson
    1987Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511813085
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813085 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bucholtz, Mary, and Kira Hall
    2005 “Identity and Interaction: A Sociocultural Linguistic Approach”. Discourse Studies7 (4–5): 585–614. doi:  10.1177/1461445605054407
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445605054407 [Google Scholar]
  7. Burke, Shani, and Simon Goodman
    2012 “‘Bring Back Hitler’s Gas Chambers’: Asylum Seeking, Nazis and Facebook:A Discursive Analysis”. Discourse & Society23 (1): 19–33. doi:  10.1177/0957926511431036
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926511431036 [Google Scholar]
  8. Chan, Chung-hong, and King-wa Fu
    2017 “The Relationship between Cyberbalkanization and Opinion Polarization: Time-Series Analysis on Facebook Pages and Opinion Polls During the Hong Kong Occupy Movement and the Associated Debate on Political Reform”. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication22 (5): 266–83. doi:  10.1111/jcc4.12192
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12192 [Google Scholar]
  9. Condit, Celeste
    2004 “Science Reporting to the Public: Does the Message Get Twisted?”. Canadian Medical Association. Journal: CMAJ; Ottawa170 (9): 1415–16. 10.1503/cmaj.1040005
    https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.1040005 [Google Scholar]
  10. Cooke, Henry
    2016 “Anti-Fluoride DHB Candidates Are Standing up and down Country, but Not Always Revealing Their Stance”. Stuff. September30 2016 https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/84832632/antifluoride-dhb-candidates-are-standing-up-and-down-country-but-not-always-revealing-their-stance
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Culpeper, Jonathan
    1996 “Towards an Anatomy of Impoliteness”. Journal of Pragmatics25 (3): 349–67. doi:  10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00014‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3 [Google Scholar]
  12. 2010 “Conventionalised Impoliteness Formulae”. Journal of Pragmatics42 (12): 3232–45. doi:  10.1016/j.pragma.2010.05.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.05.007 [Google Scholar]
  13. 2011Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511975752
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511975752 [Google Scholar]
  14. Davies, Bronwyn, and Rom Harré
    1990 “Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves”. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour20 (1): 43–63. doi:  10.1111/j.1468‑5914.1990.tb00174.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5914.1990.tb00174.x [Google Scholar]
  15. Dehghani, Morteza, Kenji Sagae, Sonya Sachdeva, and Jonathan Gratch
    2014 “Analyzing Political Rhetoric in Conservative and Liberal Weblogs Related to the Construction of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’”. Journal of Information Technology & Politics11 (1): 1–14. doi:  10.1080/19331681.2013.826613
    https://doi.org/10.1080/19331681.2013.826613 [Google Scholar]
  16. “Dr Brownstein”. n.d.AccessedOctober 7, 2018. https://www.drbrownstein.com/
  17. Faasse, Kate, Casey J. Chatman, and Leslie R. Martin
    2016 “A Comparison of Language Use in Pro- and Anti-Vaccination Comments in Response to a High Profile Facebook Post”. Vaccine34 (47): 5808–14. doi:  10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.09.029
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.09.029 [Google Scholar]
  18. Flaum, Michael, and Susan K. Schultz
    1996 “The Core Symptoms of Schizophrenia”. Annals of Medicine28 (6): 525–31. doi:  10.3109/07853899608999116
    https://doi.org/10.3109/07853899608999116 [Google Scholar]
  19. Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, Pilar
    2009 “Impoliteness and Identity in the American News Media: The ‘Culture Wars’”. Journal of Politeness Research5 (2): 273–303. doi:  10.1515/JPLR.2009.014
    https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2009.014 [Google Scholar]
  20. 2010 “A Genre Approach to the Study of Im-Politeness”. International Review of Pragmatics2 (1): 46–94. doi:  10.1163/187731010X491747
    https://doi.org/10.1163/187731010X491747 [Google Scholar]
  21. Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, Pilar, Patricia Bou-Franch, and Nuria Lorenzo-Dus
    2013 “Identity and Impoliteness: The Expert in the Talent Show Idol”. Journal of Politeness Research9 (1): 97–121. doi:  10.1515/pr‑2013‑0005
    https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2013-0005 [Google Scholar]
  22. Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, Pilar, Nuria Lorenzo-Dus, and Patricia Bou-Franch
    2010 “A Genre Approach to Impoliteness1 in a Spanish Television Talk Show: Evidence from Corpus-Based Analysis, Questionnaires and Focus Groups”. Intercultural Pragmatics7 (4): 689–723. doi:  10.1515/iprg.2010.030
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iprg.2010.030 [Google Scholar]
  23. Garimella, Kiran, Gianmarco De Francisci Morales, Aristides Gionis, and Michael Mathioudakis
    2018 “Political Discourse on Social Media: Echo Chambers, Gatekeepers, and the Price of Bipartisanship”. ArXiv:1801.01665 [Cs], January. arxiv.org/abs/1801.01665. 10.1145/3178876.3186139
    https://doi.org/10.1145/3178876.3186139 [Google Scholar]
  24. Gauchat, Gordon
    2012 “Politicization of Science in the Public Sphere: A Study of Public Trust in the United States, 1974 to 2010”. American Sociological Review77 (2): 167–87. doi:  10.1177/0003122412438225
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122412438225 [Google Scholar]
  25. Goffman, Erving
    1967Interactional Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Goodman, Simon, and Shani Burke
    2010 “‘Oh You Don’t Want Asylum Seekers, Oh You’re Just Racist’: A Discursive Analysis of Discussions about whether it’s Racist to Oppose Asylum Seeking”. Discourse & Society21 (3): 325–40. doi:  10.1177/0957926509360743
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926509360743 [Google Scholar]
  27. Goodman, Simon, and Lottie Rowe
    2014 “‘Maybe It Is Prejudice … but It Is NOT Racism’: Negotiating Racism in Discussion Forums about Gypsies”. Discourse & Society25 (1): 32–46. doi:  10.1177/0957926513508856
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926513508856 [Google Scholar]
  28. Gordon, Cynthia
    2013 “‘You Are Killing Your Kids’: Framing and Impoliteness in a Health Makeover Reality TV Show”. InReal Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action, edited byNuria Lorenzo-Dus and Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, 245–65. London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:  10.1057/9781137313461_12
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137313461_12 [Google Scholar]
  29. Helmi, Mohammad, Mary Kate Spinella, and Brittany Seymour
    2018 “Community Water Fluoridation Online: An Analysis of the Digital Media Ecosystem”. Journal of Public Health Dentistry78 (4): 296–305. doi:  10.1111/jphd.12268
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jphd.12268 [Google Scholar]
  30. Hersch, Philip L., and Jodi E. Pelkowski
    2014 “Voter Demand for Fluoridated Water: A Tale of Two c(Av)Ities”. Applied Economics Letters21 (1): 51–54. doi:  10.1080/13504851.2013.837573
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13504851.2013.837573 [Google Scholar]
  31. Hess, Amanda
    2018 “Earning the ‘Woke’ Badge”. The New York Times, January19 2018, sec. Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/magazine/earning-the-woke-badge.html
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Kata, Anna
    2012 “Anti-Vaccine Activists, Web 2.0, and the Postmodern Paradigm – An Overview of Tactics and Tropes Used Online by the Anti-Vaccination Movement”. Vaccine, Special Issue: The Role of Internet Use in Vaccination Decisions, 30 (25): 3778–89. doi:  10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.11.112
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.11.112 [Google Scholar]
  33. Kenix, Linda Jean
    2009 “Blogs as Alternative”. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication14 (4): 790–822. doi:  10.1111/j.1083‑6101.2009.01471.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01471.x [Google Scholar]
  34. Lewandowsky, Stephan, Gilles E. Gignac, and Klaus Oberauer
    2013 “The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science”. PLOS ONE8 (10): e75637. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0075637
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0075637 [Google Scholar]
  35. Locher, Miriam A., and Richard J. Watts
    2005 “Politeness Theory and Relational Work”. Journal of Politeness Research1 (1): 9–33. doi:  10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.9
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.9 [Google Scholar]
  36. Lorenzo-Dus, Nuria, Patricia Bou-Franch, and Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich
    2013 “Impoliteness in US/UK Talent Shows: A Diachronic Study of the Evolution of a Genre”. InReal Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action, edited byNuria Lorenzo-Dus and Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, 199–217. London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:  10.1057/9781137313461_10
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137313461_10 [Google Scholar]
  37. Luzón, María José
    2011 “‘Interesting Post, but I Disagree’: Social Presence and Antisocial Behaviour in Academic Weblogs”. Applied Linguistics32 (5): 517–40. doi:  10.1093/applin/amr021
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amr021 [Google Scholar]
  38. 2012 “‘Your Argument is Wrong’: A Contribution to the Study of Evaluation in Academic Weblogs”. Text & Talk32 (2): 145–165. doi:  10.1515/text‑2012‑0008
    https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2012-0008 [Google Scholar]
  39. Maia, Rousiley C. M., and Thaiane A. S. Rezende
    2016 “Respect and Disrespect in Deliberation across the Networked Media Environment: Examining Multiple Paths of Political Talk: Disrespect in Deliberation across Digital Settings”. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication21 (2): 121–39. doi:  10.1111/jcc4.12155
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12155 [Google Scholar]
  40. Marichal, Jose
    2012Facebook Democracy: The Architecture of Disclosure and the Threat to Public Life. Farnham, UK & Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. 2013 “Political Facebook Groups: Micro-Activism and the Digital Front Stage”. First Monday18 (12). journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4653
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Markman, Kris M.
    2015 “Utterance Chunking in Instant Messaging: A Resource for Interaction Management”. InDigital Business Discourse, edited byE. Darics, 61–79. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Martin, J. R., and P. R. R. White
    2005The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230511910
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230511910 [Google Scholar]
  44. Mascaro, Christopher M., Alison Novak, and Sean Goggins
    2012 “Shepherding and Censorship: Discourse Management in the Tea Party Patriots Facebook Group”. In2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Science (HICSS), 2563–2572. IEEE. ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6149325/. 10.1109/HICSS.2012.528
    https://doi.org/10.1109/HICSS.2012.528 [Google Scholar]
  45. Matoesian, Gregory M.
    1999 “The Grammaticalization of Participant Roles in the Constitution of Expert Identity”. Language in Society28 (4): 491–521. 10.1017/S0047404599004017
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404599004017 [Google Scholar]
  46. McCright, Aaron M., and Riley E. Dunlap
    2011 “The Politicization of Climate Change and Polarization in the American Public’s Views of Global Warming, 2001–2010”. The Sociological Quarterly52 (2): 155–94. doi:  10.1111/j.1533‑8525.2011.01198.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.2011.01198.x [Google Scholar]
  47. Mertz, Aaron, and Myron Allukian
    2014 “Community Water Fluoridation on the Internet and Social Media”. Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society63 (2): 32–36.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. New Zealand Parliament
  49. Pearce, W. Barnett, and Stephen W. Littlejohn
    1997Moral Conflict: When Social Worlds Collide. Thousand Oaks & London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Predelli, Stefano
    2003 “Scare Quotes and Their Relation to other Semantic Issues”. Linguistics and Philosophy26 (1): 1–28. doi:  10.1023/A:1022278209949
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022278209949 [Google Scholar]
  51. Rabinowitz, Mitchell, Lauren Latella, Chadly Stern, and John T. Jost
    2016 “Beliefs about Childhood Vaccination in the United States: Political Ideology, False Consensus, and the Illusion of Uniqueness”. PLoS ONE11 (7). doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0158382
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158382 [Google Scholar]
  52. Reicher, S. D., R. Spears, and T. Postmes
    1995 “A Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Phenomena”. European Review of Social Psychology6 (1): 161–98. doi:  10.1080/14792779443000049
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14792779443000049 [Google Scholar]
  53. Rowe, Ian
    2015 “Civility 2.0: A Comparative Analysis of Incivility in Online Political Discussion”. Information, Communication & Society18 (2): 121–38. doi:  10.1080/1369118X.2014.940365
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2014.940365 [Google Scholar]
  54. Spencer-Oatey, Helen
    2000 “Rapport Management: A Framework for Analysis”. InCulturally Speaking: Managing Rapport through Talk across Cultures, edited byHelen Spencer-Oatey, 11–46. London & New York: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. 2005 “(Im)Politeness, Face and Perceptions of Rapport: Unpackaging their Bases and Interrelationships”. Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture1 (1): 95–119. doi:  10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.95
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.95 [Google Scholar]
  56. Thompson, Dominic, and Ruth Filik
    2016 “Sarcasm in Written Communication: Emoticons are Efficient Markers of Intention”. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication21 (2): 105–20. doi:  10.1111/jcc4.12156
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12156 [Google Scholar]
  57. Upadhyay, Shiv R.
    2010 “Identity and Impoliteness in Computer-Mediated Reader Responses”. Journal of Politeness Research6 (1): 105–127. doi:  10.1515/jplr.2010.006
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jplr.2010.006 [Google Scholar]
  58. Vandergriff, Ilona
    2012 “Taking a Stance on Stance: Metastancing as Legitimation”. Critical Approaches to Discourse across Disciplines6 (1): 53–75. doi:  10.5209/CLAC.53494
    https://doi.org/10.5209/CLAC.53494 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): community water fluoridation; face; Facebook; identity; impoliteness; social media
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error