Dominance Model

featuring Zimmerman and West; Spender; Fishman; and Coates

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Zimmerman and West (ft. Greif!)

Zimmerman and West

  • In mixed-gender conversations, men are more likely to interrupt than women
  • Studied a small group of white, middle class, under-35 students from the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California
  • In 11 conversations between men and women, men used 46 interruptions but women only 2
  • From this small sample, Zimmerman and West concluded that, since men interrupt more often, they are dominating or attempting to do so


  • Both parents interrupt daughters more than sons
  • Fathers interrupt more than mothers
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  • Critical of Zimmerman and West's findings
  • " might simply have one very voluble man in the study which has a disproportionate effect on the total."
  • "Why do interruptions necessarily reflect dominance? Can interruptions not arise from other sources? Do some interruptions not reflect interest and involvement?"
  • Beattie claims to have recorded 10 hours of tutorial discussion and 557 interruptions
  • Beattie found that men and women interrupted with more or less equal frequncy (men ever so slightly more)
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  • Spender advocates a radical view of langauge as embodying structures that sustain male power
  • She refers to the work of Zimmerman and West, to the view of the male as norm and to her own idea of partriarchal order
  • She claims that it is especially difficult to challenge this power system, since the way that we think of the world is part of, and reinforces, this male power:

"The crux of our difficulties lies in being able to identify and transform the rules which govern our behaviour and which bring patriarchal order into existence. Yet the tools we have for doing this are part of that patriarchal order. While we can modify, we must nonetheless use the only language, the only classification scheme which is at our disposal. We must use it in a way that is acceptable and meaningful. But that very language and the conditions for its use in turn structure a patriarchal order."

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  • In Interaction: The Work Women Do (1983) that conversation between the genders (oh Get Revising, you bring me such joy) sometimes fails
  • Not because of anything inherent in the way women talk, but because of how men do or don't respond
  • Her very memorable phrase for the work that women do to keep a conversation going is 'conversational shitwork'
  • In Conversational Insecurity, Fishman questions Lakoff's theories
  • If asking questions shows women's insecurity and hesitancy in communication, why does Fishman say that this shows power, not a personality weakness?
  • In mixed-sex interactions, men speak on average for twice as long as women
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On the issue of topic management and topic shifts:

  • Men will often reject a topic of conversation introduced by women while women will accept the topics introduced by men
  • Men discuss 'male' topics, e.g. business, sport, politics, economics
  • Women are more likely to initiate conversation than men, but less likely to make the conversation succeed
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Caitriona Doherty


They censored a certain word starting with s and ending in ex when I was talking about gender I am dying of laughter

Caitriona Doherty


GOOD GRAVY they did not censor 'shitwork' but they did censor that word that ends in ex and starts with s

What kind of logic is that

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