IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Interpersonal relationships in the televised electoral debate

Listed author(s):
  • Boicu, Ruxandra

Abstract The present study is devoted to the analysis of the interpersonal relationships induced by the adversarial verbal exchanges that characterize a televised electoral debate. The studied electoral debate opposed the presidential candidates Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy. It was broadcast in France, in May 2007. In keeping with the French tradition, the format allotted a generous space to the face-to-face interaction between Royal and Sarkozy. Each candidate had the opportunity to direct aggressive questions to the interlocutor. This is the reason for which this media event has been selected for this research. At the same time, the important number of interrogative utterances launched in the debate by all the participants present in the studio justifies the careful scrutiny of questioning in adversarial environments. A consistent section of the chapter presents the main concepts derived from the theories that articulate the foundation of the proposed empirical investigation. Thus, the configuration of the adversarial context is essential to the analysis of the televised electoral debate. The broadcasting of the electoral debate is interpreted as cause and explanation of the increased tension between the politicians engaged in a zero-sum game. The adversarial context is the frame within which the candidates choose the target of their verbal attacks, namely, the public image of the political adversary. The image of self is both exposed and vulnerable as it represents the main concern for all the participants in the broadcast. Relying on statistics, specialized literature demonstrates that presidential candidates are mainly appreciated for their efficacy in the battle on image, rather than for their argumentative competence. In order to explain image attacks the researcher needs the interpretive apparatus and the analytic instruments offered by the theories of impoliteness. That clarifies the interest for their evolution from the Goffmanian concept of “face” to the premises of the recent theories of im/politeness and relational work. The classic theory of linguistic politeness created by Brown and Levinson (1967) is duly described as inspirational for impoliteness analysts such as Culpeper, Bousfield or Kienpointner. The core of the research is the study of questions. That is why the chapter contains descriptions of several formal classifications, according to different principles. Likewise, the questioning speech act is explained as initiative turn in face-to-face interaction, forcing the interlocutor to provide an answer. Other theoretical considerations consist in comparative approaches of formal types of questions, without neglecting the functions specific to them. The aim of their inclusion in the chapter is to emphasize the features that questions receive in various environments. Analysts agree that, in established adversarialness, they become a means of imposing power (Wang 2006), a disaffiliative activity (Steensig and Drew, 2008) or even a challenge (Koshik 2003). This is one of the main ideas that underlie this empirical research. The objective of the research is to order the questions in the data base according to their potential as impolite speech acts. They are analysed as manifestations of off-record impoliteness (Bousfield 2008). There is a double research hypothesis: as the questions are subject to three criteria of classification, the most numerous class members according to each criterion will coincide with the most impolite types of questions. At the intersection of the results of the three measurements, there must be the prototype of the most impolite question in the corpus.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 44960.

in new window

Date of creation: 2010
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44960
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany

Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2459
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-992459
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Boicu, Ruxandra, 2007. "Modal verbs and politeness strategies in political discourse," MPRA Paper 45913, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 Jan 2008.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44960. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.