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Integrative pragmatics and (im)politeness theory

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Abstract

In this chapter, we first discuss the role that pragmatics has played in the development of (im)politeness theory, and the recent move towards a middle ground that integrates classic and discursive approaches to (im)politeness. We outline the key tenets of integrative pragmatics that afford such a move, before illustrating how these can be implemented through a case study focusing on an incident in Big Brother UK where the (ostensibly) jocular use of a racial slur by a contestant caused offence and the subsequent removal of that contestant from the show. Our analyses draw from multiple methods, including those of interactional pragmatics and corpus pragmatics. In this way, we aim to both highlight the fundamentally pragmatic basis of (im)politeness, as well as the need for a nuanced and complex theorisation that integrates multiple perspectives and methods of analysis.