Metadiscourse and the management of relationships during online conflict among academics Public Deposited
  • This study analyzes how members of an online academic committee use metadiscourse to manage communication norms and relationships during conflict. Data analyzed include 67 listserv posts among academics developing a solution to a conference scheduling conflict. Discourse analysis highlights how tensions between the group’s leader and group members escalate throughout the interactions. Conflict began when participants opposed the group leader through positively evaluating the content of their leader’s email, yet re-formulating their leader’s proposed communication process. When the group leader ignored members, the members escalated opposition through negatively formulating the leader’s actions, taking overt negative affective stances, asking the leader to change his decision, and withdrawing from the committee without resolving conflict. Analysis of group’s metadiscourse illustrates that group members withdrew not because they disagreed with the leader’s solution, but because they oriented to their leader as repeatedly violating academia-specific communication and relational preferences: the group leader attempted to conduct a top-down, closed conversation, while group members preferred an open discussion among equals. These findings highlight the need to attend to community-specific communication and relational preferences, particularly when online interactions are the primary form of relational maintenance.

Date Issued
  • 2020
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Last Modified
  • 2022-06-23
Resource Type
Rights Statement