Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert T. Craig

Second Advisor

Karen Tracy

Third Advisor

David Boromisza-Habashi


This project has two primary purposes. The first purpose is to formulate the key problems involved in enactments of morality in interpersonal interaction, and how these problems are constructed and managed in participants’ discursive practices. Based on a communicative perspective situated in a grounded practical theory approach (chapter 1), this project draws on literatures across the field of communication (chapter 2) and applies discourse analytic methods (chapter 3) to video recordings of interpersonal interactions. Results of these analyses indicate that doing morality involves confronting the problematic nature of difference with regard to the fundamental commitments of interaction (intersubjectivity, chapter 4); the conditions of the particular relationship and its closeness (intimacy, chapter 5); the judgment-inflected ideas and norms arising in cultural contexts (ideology, chapter 6); the impact of salient cultural differences implicated in intercultural contact (culture, chapter 7); and the effects of difference on relationships over time (conflict, chapter 8). The second purpose of this project is to move toward identifying normative ideals for local concepts of moral communication in interpersonal relationships (chapter 9).