Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Misconstruing Status As Control

Martin (1992: 527-8):
The unequal status in text [4:2] for example is signalled in part by the fact that the interviewer asks questions and listens while the interviewer [sic] answers questions and talks.  This is not to say that the interviewer is not in control; s/he is, but that is a matter of genre, not tenor — interviewers generally defer to interviewees as part of the social process of manipulating them (as do salespersons opening a sale in service encounters).

Blogger Comments:

[1] The different rôles of interviewer and interviewee do not, in themselves, correlate with unequal social status.  Individuals of equal status may interview each other.  Moreover, higher status individuals may interview lower status individuals, as in job interviews, and lower status individuals may interview higher status individuals, as in political interviews.

[2] As previously explained, the notions of 'status' and 'control' are not equivalent.  Note that the assumption here is that the interviewee is of higher status than the interviewer.

[3] The claim here is that an interviewer being in control of an interview is a matter of text type (genre) rather than tenor (context: the relationship between the interlocutors).  Leaving aside the fact that control is not equivalent to social status, whether or not the interviewer is in control of an interview is a matter of the situation (instance of cultural context) realised in the text.  The most common situation type where the interviewee turns out to be in control is that of a political interview.