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‘You’ll think we’re always bitching’: the functions of cooperativity and competition in women’s gossip
Article from Journal - ilmiah internasional
Discourse Studies (Full Text) vol. 3 no. 1 (Feb. 2001)
socialized images of femininity
Literature relating to gender and discourse has shown that the features and structure of women’s talk are highly cooperative. The implicature taken from this research has led to a binary opposition of gender stereotyping that allows for the inference that if women’s talk is stylistically cooperative then it follows that cooperativity is a characteristic feature of women’s social lives. Further, in opposition to this, men are seen as competitive and, as Cameron (1997) has rightly noted, analysis that focuses on the ‘style rather than the substance of what is said’ obscures the complex nature of talk and results in unhelpful ‘competitive/cooperative oppositions’. This article explores the genre of gossip and suggests two main sub-genres ‘bitching’ and ‘peer group news-giving’. Analysis of instances of women’s ‘bitching’ reveals that while women’s conversations may rely on interlocutor cooperativity and a collaborative floor, the conversations are underpinned by a need to discursively claim symbolic capital through competition for socially acceptable images of femininity which reproduce a hegemonic ideology of gender.
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