A study of relational ritual, affectivity, and identity (de)construction in Chinese X-change programmes


  • Chengtuan Li Guangdong University of Foreign Studies




relational ritual, affectivity, identity (de)construction, confucian lun


This study attempts to examine how, in X-change, a Chinese televised documentary programme, fathers and sons practise their relational rituals, display their emotions and (de)construct their relational identities. Based on data analysis and the Confucian ritual theory five Luns, it finds that in family talk, ritual practices change, switching from negative or deviant ones to positive and normative ones, and the affectivity involved also changes from negative emotion to positive emotion. At the beginning of the programme, due to violation of one of the Confucian Luns – loving father and filial son (fucizixiao) – the father and the son conduct the destructive relational ritual practices, deconstruct their relational identities, and release their negative affect. As the programme progresses, both the father and the son commence to conform to Lun, and hence constructive relational ritual practices occur, and relational identities are reconstructed and normalised in terms of Lun; eventually their affect becomes positive, and their interpersonal rapport is enhanced.

Author Biography

Chengtuan Li, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies

Chengtuan Li is a professor at the Faculty of English Language and Culture and the Centre for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, P. R. China. His research interests are pragmatics and discourse analysis, with specific reference to identity construction, im/politeness, and rituals. His work has appeared in Journal of Pragmatics, Text & Talk, Intercultural Pragmatics, and some key Chinese journals. His monograph titled An Interpersonal Pragmatic Study of Professional Identity Construction in Chinese Televised Debating Discourse is published by Springer.


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How to Cite

Li, C. (2022). A study of relational ritual, affectivity, and identity (de)construction in Chinese X-change programmes. East Asian Pragmatics, 7(2), 149–174. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.19944