The Role of Politeness Strategies in Forming the Public Self-Image of an Organization: A Mini-Ethnographic Case Study of the Punjab Police through the Pragmatic Lens
The police are an important part of a society, responsible for the upkeep of law and order and for listening to the public’s grievances. The latter is the concern of this study, which focuses on analysing the politeness strategies used by the members of the Punjab Police in conversation with the complainants in the police stations of Lahore. Moreover, this paper also studies how politeness strategies are used by the police to impart its own public self-image (face) to the public. The study adopted the politeness strategies framework (positive, negative, bald on-record, off record) outlined originally by Brown and Levinson (1987) to tag utterances exchanged between the police and the complainants. The study used a mini-ethnographic case study for the collection of data from police stations through observations, field notes and semi-structured interviews. Three police stations were observed for triangulation purposes where interactions between the complainants and the front-desk officers were noted down. Moreover, interviews were taken from front-desk officers, sub-inspectors, inspectors and SHOs. The observations and supporting interviews have shown that the police are keen on maintaining a positive face (i.e., maintaining solidarity and cordialness) which was in contrast to the complainants who by default maintained a negative face (i.e., maintained a serious demeanour, and had a more direct, to-the-point attitude). This goes on to show the conscious effort made by the police to maintain a friendly outlook, and shun stereotypical tags of being impolite, rude, and overpowering with the complainants.
Keywords: politeness, politeness strategies, Punjab Police
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