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Gender and conversational dominance in Japanese conversation

  • HIROKO ITAKURA (a1) and AMY B. M. TSUI (a2)

A number of studies have been conducted on “dominance” as reflected in spoken interactional features, most of which deal with English. Many of these studies adopt a quantitative approach, examining the amount and distribution of interactional features such as amount of talk, interruptions and overlaps, turn-taking, questions, and topic initiations, and they have drawn conclusions on “dominance” accordingly. The present study explores gender dominance in conversation by analyzing conversational data from eight Japanese dyads by integrating quantitative and qualitative analyses. The quantitative analysis of two dimensions of conversational dominance, sequential dominance and participatory dominance, does not show any obvious gender dominance; however, the qualitative analysis of three of the dyads finds a clear pattern of male speakers' self-oriented conversational style, which is manifested in their storytelling and claiming expertise, and this is supported by female speakers' other-oriented conversational style. Gender dominance therefore is seen as a mutual construction. The conclusion discusses the importance of integrating findings from both quantitative and qualitative analyses in situated contexts to deepen understanding of the complexity of gender dominance.The authors wish to thank Dwight Atkinson, Andy Curtis, Jane Hill, and two anonymous reviewers for their encouragement and valuable comments on earlier drafts of the paper. They also wish to thank Simon Lai, senior research assistant, for his help in conducting the statistical test.

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