Impoliteness in Facebook status updates: Strategic talk among colleagues “outside” the workplace

Chun Nam Bernie MAK, Hin Leung CHUI

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines how colleagues of an Italian restaurant in Hong Kong perform core business and relation-based talk in Facebook Status Updates beyond working hours and outside the workplace. Adapting Wenger's (1998) framework of Communities of Practice and Culpeper's (1996) model of impoliteness, we particularly concentrate on how they employ impoliteness strategies to get things done, and how power is negotiated in the three mechanisms of doing power as suggested in Wodak et al. (2012). Based on the analysis of 200 Status Updates collected from the research site, we find that such colleagues' talk outside the workplace can be conducive (or at least influential) to professional tasks and their relationships in the workplace. As our participants infuse their impoliteness strategies with Netspeak, they tend to employ the impoliteness strategies of “disassociating from others,” “being unsympathetic,” and “not treating others seriously.” Simultaneously, their impolite participation displays a tendency to challenge or subvert institutional authority and official status, typically by some normative mechanisms of doing power. We argue that Status Updates blur the line between “in the workplace” and “outside the workplace,” and that they become an alternative collocation of workplace talk which allows repositioning of work matters and renegotiation of power by impoliteness strategies. Copyright © 2014 Mouton de Gruyter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-185
JournalText & Talk
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


Mak, B. C. N., & Chui, H. L. (2014). Impoliteness in Facebook status updates: Strategic talk among colleagues “outside” the workplace. Text & Talk, 34(2), 165-185.


  • Impoliteness
  • Workplace discourse
  • Power
  • Facebook
  • Microblogging
  • Hong Kong


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