A model of trust-repair discourse

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This article proposes a novel theoretical framework for examining trust-repair discourse. The model identifies two fundamental discourse strategies available to the trust-breaker when trust is at stake (i) to engage with and act upon the discourses that represent a potential source of distrust - neutralize the negative, (ii) to communicate a trustworthy discourse identity - emphasize the positive. These strategies are realized in discourse through the use of dialogic engagement and evaluative/affective language, respectively. The ultimate communicative goal of the strategies is that of promoting the addressees' positive (re-)assessment of the speaker's ability, integrity and benevolence. The model is applied to the analysis of the CEO letter published by BP one year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The analysis has the twofold purpose of demonstrating the viability of the model and determining the discourse strategies deployed by the CEO to repair trust in the company after the accident.


Research areas and keywords

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  • Languages and Literature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-69
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

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