Politeness Strategies in Imagined Conversation Openers About Eldercare

Margaret J. Pitts, Craig Fowler, Carla L. Fisher, Stephanie A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In the United States, many adult children and their aging parents reach the point when it is necessary to address future care needs of the parent. Given that the prevailing culture values independence over interdependence, discussing future care needs can be face threatening. Therefore, an examination of how adult children approach such conversations and manage face needs is an important first step toward understanding what makes these conversations effective and supportive. We use politeness theory to illuminate ways in which adult children incorporate facework in imagined messages ("openers") to initiate a conversation with their aging parent about eldercare. Openers were thematically coded for politeness strategies and messages. Imagined openers featured complex "strings" of positive and negative politeness strategies. Implications are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-48
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • aging
  • decision making
  • eldercare
  • facework
  • family
  • health
  • intergenerational communication
  • parent-child communication
  • politeness theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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