Date of Award

Summer 8-2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Applied Linguistics

Committee Director

Joanne Scheibman

Committee Member

David Metzger

Committee Member

Janet M. Bing


Previous studies of advice characterized it as a discourse in which authority is afforded to the giver by virtue of being asked for advice. As an authoritative discourse, advice sets the standards by which interlocutors base their judgments of normalcy. The consequences of these judgments are multiplied when advice is given as part of public, institutional talk, such as with radio call-in programs. This thesis examines how the authoritative discourse of global advice (public, commercial advice) is used to construct and normalize human experiences, specifically gender and sexuality. This study is based on an analysis of ten audio-taped episodes, each two hours in length, of the radio call-in program Loveline. In addition to examining the linguistic features of global advice that identify it as norm-enforcing, such as generalized references, axiom markers and metaphor, this thesis examines how the environment of institutional talk and the medium of radio strengthen the normative aspect of global advice. In doing so, the text under analysis is characterized (Chapter II) with attention to other texts that inform it, such as doctor-patient interaction and therapeutic texts. After providing this characterization, the data are examined to illustrate the ideologies constructed and enforced in the program. By quantifying the topic selections of caller to the program, the data in Chapter III show that the topics important to women are other-oriented while those important to men are self-oriented because women and men attend to different texts in the program. Chapter IV examines the most prevalent ideologies normalized by the hosts. Masculinity is defined by the following desires, identities, and practices: men desire sex all the time; men who have sex are successful in all other areas of life and have nothing to complain about; men masturbate frequently. Femininity is primarily defined in contrast (subjugation) to masculinity. Women are treated as objects of masculine desire and practices, and this often leads to their identities as victims. The analyses indicate that what would seem to be a helpful linguistic environment is actually an arena for judgment and norm-enforcing.


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