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Face manifestations in Thai hospitality settings : an investigation of interpersonally-sensitive activities

This study aims to discursively examine the ways in which Thai and non-Thai participants manage face concerns in articulating and responding to interpersonally-sensitive activities, i.e. disagreements, rejections and refusals, in Thai service encounter contexts. Data included audio- and video-recordings and field-notes from naturally-occurring interactions between Thai agents and (non-)Thai customers in two hotels, a travel agency and a tourist information centre in Thailand. A fine-grained analysis of Thai service encounters revealed that the Thai and non-Thai customers preferred implicitness to explicitness in rejecting the suggested product, in order to avoid confrontation and maintain face. Their non-confrontation, through implicitness, indicated that the participants did not take into account the unequal status between agents and customers. This behaviour, which was signaled through nonverbally and prosodically dispreferred responses, e.g. silence and hesitators, was viewed by the interactants as politic behaviour. The Thai agents also showed implicitness by withholding (dis)agreements with the customers; this implicitness is linked with face concerns and commercial goal orientedness. However, the Thai agents occasionally formulated explicit disagreements without any mitigating strategies, when they wanted to ensure that the non-Thai customers understood their meanings clearly. Explicitness also occurred when they wanted to encourage the customers to buy the product at full price. Nonetheless, there was insufficient evidence to show that the agents’ explicitness was interpreted as non-politic behaviour by the non-Thai customers. This study contributes to the sparse discursive examination of verbal and nonverbal behaviour in authentic Thai institutional interactions and provides a rare insight to changes in social hierarchy and status in Thai culture.
Date January 2015
CreatorsLeelaharattanarak, Nattana
ContributorsMárquez-Reiter, Rosina
PublisherUniversity of Surrey
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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