An Analysis of American – Chinese Movie ‘Saving Face” by Using Face Negotiation Theory

Topics: Individualism, Overseas Chinese, Communication Pages: 5 (1924 words) Published: August 31, 2012
An analysis of American – Chinese movie ‘Saving face” by using Face Negotiation Theory

Table of contents
Face Negotiation Theory2
An application of face-negotiation theory in the movie “Saving face” (2004)3
Advantages and disadvantages of face theory6

The term “face-negotiation theory” was first introduced by Stella Ting-Toomey, a Professor of Human Communication Studies at California State University, in 1988 based on amazing works of Goffman in 1955 and Levinson and Brown in 1987 (Oetzel & Ting-Toomey 2003). According to Griffin (2005), the main idea of this theory is to clarify people coming from dissimilar cultures will have different ways in managing conflicts as well as communication. This essays aims to explain briefly about face-negotiation theory and a media text which reflects this theory. Face-negotiation theory (Face theory)

In face-negotiation theory, the terms “face”, “facework”, “face threat”, and “face concerns” as well as three dimensions of face play important roles. Dr. Ting-Toomey (1988) supposes that people coming from dissimilar culture are negotiating face at all times. She assumes that the term “face” refers to a “public self-image” that an individual want to be seen and treated when communicating with other people. One’s face can be lost, or maintained, restored and strengthened. Next, according to Goffman (1959, cited in Cupach & Metts 1994), face threats is simply clarified as conflicts. Another important concept is facework which means “specific verbal and non-verbal messages that help to maintain and restore face loss, and to uphold and honor face gain” (Ting-Toomey & Kurogi 1998, pp. 190). Moreover, the framework of this concept embraces face-saving, which is occurred to safeguard a face, and face-restoration which happens when people’s face is harm (Cupach & Metts 1994). Face concern considers for mutual face, or self-face because it mainly focus on other people (Griffin 2005). Finally, there are also three dimensions of face, namely autonomy, fellowship and competence face (Lim & Bowers 1991). The autonomy face is an urge to be looked independent, responsible and in control while the fellowship face refers to an urge to be accepted and love and the competence face is an urge to be appeared as ability and intelligent. Dr. Ting-Toomy (1994) states that collectivists worry about their fellowship face whereas individualists concern more about their autonomy face. Furthermore, culture includes various dimensions but the face-negotiation theory mainly focuses on one characteristic: the difference between collectivism and individualism in order to forecast methodologies which can be used to control conflicts. Based on Griffin’s work (2005, pp. 403), Ting-Toomey uses two term “independent self” and “interdependent self” which refer to “the degree to which people conceive of themselves as relatively autonomous from, or connected to, others” or often well-known as the term “self-construal”. In addition, the independent self refers to collectivism which values I-identity and the other refers to individualism which values We-identity. Moreover, Dr. Ting-Toomey (cited in W Gudykunst 2004) states that people in individualistic culture often choose three styles when managing conflict, there are dominating (or competing), emotional expressive, and passive aggressive. To compare, collectivists usually choose compromising or integrating, third-party help, and avoiding or obliging. An application of face-negotiation theory in the movie “Saving face” (2004) “Saving face” is a movie about a Chinese-American lesbian – a young surgeon named Wilhelmina (Wil) – and her mother who has unexpected pregnancy named Gao. Mrs. Gao is struggling with the Chinese-American community about being pregnant without a husband and she also have to make a decision between the demand of protect her father’s reputation or the demand of herself and following her heart....

References: An application of face-negotiation theory in the movie “Saving face” (2004)
“Saving face” is a movie about a Chinese-American lesbian – a young surgeon named Wilhelmina (Wil) – and her mother who has unexpected pregnancy named Gao
Saving face (2004), motion picture, Destination Films, USA, W Smith, J Lassiter & T Zee, Producers, A Wu, Director.
Ting-Toomey, S & Gudykunst, W 1988, Culture and interpersonal communication, Sage Publications, USA
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