Big Brother and Big Sister: But Whose Power Is Bigger?

| April 16, 2012
Big Brother and Big Sister: But Whose Power Is Bigger?

Keywords: Big Brother, discourse markers: oh and you know, gender and power relations

Burcu Simsek Benderli
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Bio Data
Burcu Simsek Benderli is a current PhD student at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge and has been working as an EFL teacher for six years. Her main interest areas are Soicolinguistics, Computer-Mediated Discourse and Discourse Analysis.

Big Brother (BB), apart from being a very popular reality TV show broadcast in over 65 countries, is significant to linguistics in terms of gender differences and power relations in the house. Referring to a male figure as a name, Big Brother (UK) instructing housemates on various matters and interacting with them on a daily basis is, in fact, both a male and a female figure changing randomly in housemates’ visits to the diary room. The housemates’ perception of authority of BB as a male figure and a female figure is the focus of this study and the question asked is whether housemates change their discourse when interacting with male and female BB. The data is collected from 4 housemates’ dialogues with BB in the diary room on two consecutive eviction nights, where their reflection on evictions is asked by BB male and BB female. Each housemate is interviewed by male and female BB once in these two visits. The data transcribed is analysed by the use and frequency of specific discourse markers which are oh and you know. One of many functions of these two markers are showing dependency on listener and defining listener / speaker roles in discourse. The results show that housemates are more passive, aware of a listener and dependent on listener participation with male BB whereas they express themselves regardless of female BB’s position as a listener and do not ask for her participation during their interactions
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Category: Monthly Editions, Volume 59