January 8, 2016
Dayter, D. (2014). Self-praise in microblogging. Journal of Pragmatics, 61, 91-102.
Today’s article focuses on “self-praise in micro blogging” which is basically a fancy way to say Tweeting good stuff about yourself. The author did an in depth study of the speech acts on Twitter of ten ballet students and discovered that self praise formed an important category of communication. She was intrigued by just how self-praise is enacted within a community of practice, particularly how it might be used in constructing a “dancer image” amidst the community.
Apparently there is a whole area of study called “compliment research” which grapples with, among other things, politeness across cultures, what counts as boasting, and reactions to receiving compliments. As self-praise is essentially complimenting yourself, the author compared Pomerantz’s six common ways to reconcile a compliment with how the dancer’s expressed self-praise. The goal was to see if indeed self-praise followed a similar route to compliment response.
After coding all tweets, three main categories of self-praise emerged amongst the dancers:
- Explicit self-praise without modification
- Explicit self-praise with modification
- Disclaim the face-threat
- Shift focus away from self
- Refer to hard work
- Self-praise followed by a complaint
- Self-praise framed as a third party complaint
The article concludes with the assertion that self-praise somewhat overlaps with compliment response but serves many purposes all its own including: positive identity construction, self/autobiographic narrative construction, and group membership reinforcement.
Overall it was an interesting article particularly because I am such an avid micro-blog user and I enjoy thinking about how the identity we construct in online spaces relates to the identity we construct in face-to-face spaces.
In order to take my article engagement one step further and test the categories Dayter distilled (and check my own level of self-praise via Twitter) I did a little DIY coding on my own Twitter feed. I wasn’t able to hit all the categories Dayter identified (I skew heavy on alcohol and light on complaints…hmm…maybe a correlation there?) I did hit many of them.
Study Limitation: I only went back to fall 2015, which is barely scratching the surface of my 5,000+ tweets.
Re-reading tweets outside of the moment/context/emotion in which I wrote them gives them a weird out-of-body feel. I know I wrote them, I can mostly remember the context and yet reading my own words from afar and analyzing them still feels odd. I think this act was a good one to get me thinking more about coding, speech acts, and narrative analysis. I like the reflexivity of this exercise and I think that looking through this form of self-recording, one does get a pretty true picture of who I am. There may be something to this whole narrative analysis thing…..
Lisa’s Self-Praise Analysis
Explicit self-praise without modification
Explicit self-praise with modification
Shift focus away from self
Refer to hard work
Self-praise followed by a complaint
Compliment Research Resource:
Pomerantz, Anita, 1978. Compliment responses. In: Schenkein, Jim (Ed.), Studies in the Organization of Conversational Interaction. Academic Press, New York, pp. 79–112.