Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Faith Mullen


Face Concerns, Face Management Theory, Mockumentary, Modern Family, Politeness Theory, Sitcom


Communication | Critical and Cultural Studies | Other Communication | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology


The sitcom has remained a popular choice for television viewers since its inception. They have evolved in their methods of entertaining their audiences, often depicting unlikeable characters engaging in antisocial behaviors. This study examines one such sitcom, Modern Family, through the lens of Brown and Levinson's politeness theory, and related concepts contributed by other theorists. These theorists maintain that a primary motive behind any interaction is the presentation and maintenance of a chosen identity or "face." Those actions that fail to maintain face, for either participant are called "face-threatening acts." This study attempts to determine if the characters behave in ways consistent with the assumptions of these theories. The researcher examined the complete first season of Modern Family and found that half of the main characters freely and frequently commit politeness violations. The ramifications of such a narrative are discussed, as well as limitation of the current study. Finally possible avenues of future related research are provided.