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spoken interaction

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Introduction

Describe and explain how the composition of conversational groups displays the spoken interactive style of men and women. * * * The composition of a conversational group will often result in the use of greatly contrasting strategies depending on the gender of those within the conversation. Spoken interaction varies considerably between men and women, directly affecting how a conversation will play out. These differences will be most obvious in mixed-gender conversation. Research by the likes of Mark Liberman gives us an insight into male behaviour, supported by the earlier work of Fisherman. Both researchers highlight he fact that men speak for much greater stretches of time while using a greater number of words, in comparison to women. ...read more.

Middle

Males will generally offer up less support for one another in conversation, while being more comfortable voicing their disagreement. Some research has also found men to be more interruptive of each other, though this has been contradicted by the work of Zimmerman and West. Women, on the other hand, tend to be supportive of each other, showing agreement through back-channelling and other positive feedback. This behaviour displays the competitive nature of males in conversation, compared to the more co-operative, supportive style of females. The behaviour of males within conversation is documented with the Dominance Theory. Therein, we are aware that males play a dominant role in society, and thus are dominant within language. ...read more.

Conclusion

The motives behind conversation also differ. Where females would desire sympathy or support, males are found to simply want a solution, though such observations are often criticised as stereotypical. As mentioned, the dominance theory is one explanation for these differences in male and female language use. Another, is the difference theory proposed by Deborah Tannen. This theory is often seen as an improvement, rather than a rejection of the dominance theory. Tannen argues that the differences in language use are inherent; not necessarily a result of positions within society. To conclude, it is established that males do indeed play a dominant role in conversation. However, I would agree with Tannen's idea that this is simply a product of the competitive nature of male interaction, and the contrasting style of female conversation, wherein co-operation is more prominent than competition. ...read more.

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