# Authority and Politeness: Complementary Analyses of Mathematics Teaching Episodes

## Abstract

In this chapter we juxtapose two analyses of episodes from a year 9 mathematics class. Particularly, we analyse the ways that a mathematics teacher managed authority relationships when he moved from a familiar context to an unfamiliar one in a much larger school. We build off an analysis using authority structures, following previous research. Then we compare that to an analysis based on politeness theory, with a focus on the effect of verbal acts on the participants’ faces. Additionally, we investigate how various verbal acts affect the definition of the situation. We conclude by comparing the revelations from the two conceptual frames; we claim that politeness theory may help us explain teachers’ and students’ choices of particular authority structures in their classroom interactions.

## Keywords

Authority Politeness Face-saving Positioning Discourse## References

- Biddle, B. J., & Thomas, E. J. (1966). Prescriptions. In B. J. Biddle & E. J. Thomas (Eds.),
*Role theory: Concepts and research*(pp. 103–104). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar - Bikner-Ahsbahs, A., & Prediger, S. (Eds.). (2014).
*Networking of theories as a research practice in mathematics education*. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar - Blumer, H. (1969).
*Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method*. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar - Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987).
*Politeness: Some universals in language usage*. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar - Davies, B., & Harré, R. (1999). Positioning and personhood. In R. Harré & L. van Langenhove (Eds.),
*Positioning theory: Moral contexts of intentional action*(pp. 32–52). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar - Goffman, E. (1971).
*The presentation of self in everyday life*. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin University Books.Google Scholar - Goffman, E. (1972).
*Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behaviour*. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin University Books.Google Scholar - Goffman, E. (1981).
*Forms of talk*. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press.Google Scholar - Harré, R., & van Langenhove, L. (Eds.). (1999).
*Positioning theory: Moral contexts of intentional action*. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar - Herbel-Eisenmann, B., & Wagner, D. (2010). Appraising lexical bundles in mathematics classroom discourse: Obligation and choice.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics,**75,*43–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Herbel-Eisenmann, B., Wagner, D., Johnson, K., Suh, H., & Figueras, H. (2015). Positioning in mathematics education: Revelations on an imported theory.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics,**89*(2), 185–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Homans, G. C. (1966). Norms and Behavior. In B. J. Biddle & E. J. Thomas (Eds.),
*Role theory: Concepts and research*(pp. 134–144). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar - Kádár, D., & Haugh, M. (2013).
*Understanding politeness*. London: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Lakoff, G. (1973). Hedges: A study in meaning criteria and the logic of fuzzy concepts.
*Journal of Philosophical Logic,**2,*458–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Mead, G. H. (1934).
*Mind, self and society*. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar - Rowland, T. (1999). Pronouns in mathematical talk: Power, vagueness, and generalization.
*For the Learning of Mathematics,**19,*19–26.Google Scholar - Rowland, T. (2000).
*The pragmatics of mathematics education: Vagueness in mathematical discourse*. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar - Tatsis, K., & Dekker, R. (2010). Combining approaches for the analysis of collaborative mathematics learning.
*For the Learning of Mathematics,**30,*18–21.Google Scholar - Tatsis, K., & Koleza, E. (2008). Social and sociomathematical norms in collaborative problem solving.
*European Journal of Teacher Education, 31*, 89–100.Google Scholar - Tatsis, K., & Maj-Tatsis, B. (2017). Authority structures in preservice teachers’ talk. In T. Dooley & G. Gueudet (Eds.),
*Proceedings of the tenth congress of the European society for research in mathematics education (CERME10, February 1–5, 2017)*(pp. 1380–1387). Dublin, Ireland: DCU Institute of Education and ERME.Google Scholar - Tatsis, K., & Rowland, T. (2006). Vague language in Greek and English mathematical talk: A variation study in face-work. In J. Novotná, H. Moraová, M. Krátká, & N. Stehliková (Eds.),
*Proceedings of the 30th conference of the international group for the psychology of mathematics education*(Vol. 5, pp. 257–264). Prague: Charles University.Google Scholar - van Langenhove, L., & Harré, R. (1999). Introducing positioning theory. In R. Harré & L. van Lagenhove (Eds.),
*Positioning theory: Moral contexts of intentional action*(pp. 14–31). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar - Wagner, D., & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2009). Re-mythologizing mathematics through attention to classroom positioning.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics,**72*(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Wagner, D., & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2014). Identifying authority structures in mathematics classroom discourse: A case of a teacher’s early experience in a new context.
*ZDM: The International Journal of Mathematics Education, 46,*871–882.Google Scholar - Yackel, E. (2001). Explanation, justification and argumentation in mathematics classrooms. In M. van den Heuvel-Panhuizen (Ed.),
*Proceedings of the 25th annual conference of the international group for the psychology of mathematics education*(Vol. 1, pp. 9–24). The Netherlands: Freudenthal Institute, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, Utrecht University.Google Scholar - Yackel, E., & Cobb, P. (1996). Sociomathematical norms, argumentation, and autonomy in mathematics.
*Journal for Research in Mathematics Education,**27,*390–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar