Patterns of othering minority groups in telephone gatekeeping encounters in the Sheffield property market
Keywords:UK housing market, gatekeeping, accent and name discrimination, rapport management, service encounters
Research into housing discrimination has pointed out the pivotal role of estate agents as gatekeepers to the housing market. Telephone mystery shopping experiments were carried out with British estate agents to investigate how different British majority and minority groups – indexed by accented speech and ethnic personal names – are treated in those housing gatekeeping encounters. While there was little evidence for overt discrimination, linguistic micro-analyses of the data revealed differential treatment of ethnic majority and minority groups during the call procedure. The differential treatment was found in the estate agents’ call handling behaviours and related to the degree of personalisation of the service encounter in the form of either giving or withholding opportunities for rapport building with the caller. The findings show that ethnolinguistic discrimination in estate agents’ service provision affects the gatekeeping process independently of its outcome, with implications for the notion of equitable access to services and community participation in the United Kingdom.
Allen, C. (2008) Housing Market Renewal and Social Class. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203932742
Allport, G. (1954) The Nature of Prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Antaki, C. (2002) ‘Lovely’: turn-initial high-grade assessments in telephone closings. Discourse Studies 4(1): 5–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614456020040010101
Archer, D. and Jagodzi?ski, P. (2015) Call centre interaction: a case of sanctioned face attack? Journal of Pragmatics 76: 46–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.11.009
Barresi, C. M. (1968) The role of the real estate agent in residential location. Sociological Focus 1(4): 59–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/00380237.1968.10570511
Baugh, J. (2000) Racial identification by speech. American Speech 75(4): 362–4. https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-75-4-362
Baugh, J. (2007) Linguistic contributions to the advancement of racial justice within and beyond the African diaspora. Language and Linguistics Compass 1: 331–49. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-818X.2007.00020.x
Bavan, M. (2007) Does housing discrimination exist based on the ‘color’ of an individual’s voice? Cityscape 9(1): 93–107.
Blommaert, L., Coenders, M. and Van Tubergen, F. (2013) Discrimination of Arabic-named applicants in the Netherlands: an internet-based field experiment examining different phases in online recruitment procedures. Social Forces 92(3): 957–82. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/sot124
Bonnet, F., Lalé, E., Safi, M. and Wasmer, E. (2016) Better residential than ethnic discrimination! Reconciling audit and interview findings in the Parisian housing market. Urban Studies 53(13): 2815–33. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098015596107
Boxer, D. (1993) Complaining and commiserating: exploring gender issues. Text-Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Discourse 13(3): 371–96. https://doi.org/10.1515/text.1.1922.214.171.1241
Bursell, M. (2012) Name change and destigmatization among Middle Eastern immigrants in Sweden. Ethnic and Racial Studies 35(3): 471–87. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2011.589522
Cameron, D. (2000) Styling the worker: gender and the commodification of language in the globalized service economy. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4(3): 323–47. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00119
Cameron, D. (2008) Talk from the top down. Language & Communication 28(2): 143–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2007.09.001
Clark, H. H. and Wilkes-Gibbs, D. (1986) Referring as a collaborative process. Cognition 22(1): 1–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(86)90010-7
Clark, H. H., Brennan, S. E., Resnick, L. B., Levine, J. M. and Teasley, S. D. (1991) Grounding in Communication Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition 127–49. Washington, D.C., US: American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10096-006
Coupland, N. and Bishop, H. (2007) Ideologised values for British accents. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(1): 74–93. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2007.00311.x
Egbert, M. (2004) Other-initiated repair and membership categorization – some conversational events that trigger linguistic and regional membership categorization. Journal of Pragmatics 36(8): 1467–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2003.11.007
Egbert, M. (2005) Discrimination due to nonnative speech production? In K. Richards and P. Seedhouse (eds) Applying Conversation Analysis 174–94. London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230287853_11
Erickson, F. (1976) Gatekeeping encounters: a social selection process. In P.R. Sanday (ed.) Anthropology and the Public Interest. Fieldwork and Theory 111–45. Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-617650-6.50015-8
Firth, A. (1996) The discursive accomplishment of normality: on ‘lingua franca’ English and conversation analysis. Journal of Pragmatics 26(2): 237–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(96)00014-8
Flege, J. E. (1984) The detection of French accent by American listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 76(3): 692–707. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.391256
Fuertes, J. N., Gottdiener, W. H., Martin, H., Gilbert, T. C. and Giles, H. (2012) A meta?analysis of the effects of speakers’ accents on interpersonal evaluations. European Journal of Social Psychology 42(1): 120–33. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.862
Garrett, P., Coupland, N. and Williams, A. (2003) Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Giles, H. and Billings, A. C. (2004) Assessing language attitudes: speaker evaluation studies. In A. Davies and C. Elder (eds) The Handbook of Applied Linguistics 187–209. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Gluszek, A. and Dovidio, J. F. (2010) Speaking with a nonnative accent: perceptions of bias, communication difficulties, and belonging in the United States. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 29(2): 224–34. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X09359590
Goffman, E. (1964) The neglected situation. American Anthropologist 66: 133–6. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1964.66.suppl_3.02a00090
Gumperz, J. (1982) Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611834
Gurney, C. M. (1999a) Lowering the drawbridge: a case study of analogy and metaphor in the social construction of home-ownership. Urban Studies 36(10): 1705–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/0042098992782
Gurney, C. M. (1999b) Pride and prejudice: discourses of normalisation in public and private accounts of home ownership. Housing Studies 14(2): 163–83. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673039982902
Hansen, K. and Dovidio, J. F. (2016) Social dominance orientation, nonnative accents, and hiring recommendations. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 22(4): 544. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000101
Hansen, K., Raki?, T. and Steffens, M. C. (2014) When actions speak louder than words: preventing discrimination of nonstandard speakers. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 33(1): 68–77. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X13499761
Haugen, E. (1972) The ecology of language. In A. S. Dil (ed.) The Ecology of Language: Essays by Einar Haugen 325–39. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Heritage, J. (2005) Conversation analysis and institutional talk. In K. L. Fitch and R. E. Sanders (eds) Handbook of Language and Social Interaction 103–47. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hoolachan, J., McKee, K., Moore, T. and Soaita, A. M. (2017) ‘Generation rent’ and the ability to ‘settle down’: economic and geographical variation in young people’s housing transitions. Journal of Youth Studies 20(1): 63–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2016.1184241
Horr, A., Hunkler, C. and Kroneberg, C. (2018) Ethnic discrimination in the German housing market. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 47(2): 134–46. https://doi.org/10.1515/zfsoz-2018-1009
House, J. (2010) Impoliteness in Germany: intercultural encounters in everyday and institutional talk. Intercultural Pragmatics 7(4): 561–95. https://doi.org/10.1515/iprg.2010.026
Hultgren, A. K. (2017) Vocatives as rationalized politeness: theoretical insights from emerging norms in call centre service encounters. Journal of Sociolinguistics 21(1): 90–111. https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12224
Jagodzi?ski, P. and Archer, D. (2018) Co-creating customer experience through call centre interaction: interactional achievement and professional face. Journal of Politeness Research 14(2): 257–77. https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2018-0016
Jaworska, S. and Themistocleous, C. (2018) Public discourses on multilingualism in the UK: triangulating a corpus study with a sociolinguistic attitude survey. Language in Society 47(1): 57–88. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404517000744
Kecskes, I. (2013) Intercultures, encyclopedic knowledge and cultural models. In F. Sharifian and M. Jamarani (eds) Language and Intercultural Communication in the New Era 39–59. New York: Routledge.
Kinzler, K. D., Shutts, K., DeJesus, J. and Spelke, E. S. (2009) Accent trumps race in guiding children’s social preferences. Social Cognition 27: 623–4. https://doi.org/10.1521/soco.2009.27.4.623
Lindemann, S. (2002) Listening with an attitude: a model of native-speaker comprehension of non-native speakers in the United States. Language in Society 31(3): 419–41. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404502020286
Lindström, J., Norrby, C., Wide, C. and Nilsson, J. (2019) Task-completing assessments in service encounters. Research on Language and Social Interaction 52(2): 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/08351813.2019.1581468
Lippi-Green, R. (1994) Accent, standard language ideology, and discriminatory pretext in the courts. Language in Society 23(2): 163–98. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500017826
Mallett, S. (2004) Understanding home: a critical review of the literature. Sociological Review 52(1): 62–89. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2004.00442.x
Massey, D. S. and Lundy, G. (2001) Use of Black English and racial discrimination in urban housing markets: new methods and findings. Urban Affairs Review 36(4): 452–69. https://doi.org/10.1177/10780870122184957
McKee, K. (2012) Young people, homeownership and future welfare. Housing Studies 27(6): 853–62. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2012.714463
Munro, M. J. and Derwing, T. M. (1995) Processing time, accent, and comprehensibility in the perception of native and foreign-accented speech. Language and Speech 38(3): 289–306. https://doi.org/10.1177/002383099503800305
Office for National Statistics (ONS) (2011) 2011 UK Census. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160129062745/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/census/2011/index.html
Orthaber, S. and Márquez-Reiter, R. (2011) ‘Talk to the hand’. Complaints to a public transport company. Journal of Pragmatics 43(15): 3860–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.10.004
Pager, D. (2007) The use of field experiments for studies of employment discrimination: contributions, critiques, and directions for the future. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 609(1): 104–33. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716206294796
Palm, R. (1985) Ethnic segmentation of real estate agent practice in the urban housing market. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 75(1): 58–68. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8306.1985.tb00058.x
Pearce, D. M. (1979) Gatekeepers and homeseekers: institutional patterns in racial steering. Social Problems 26(3): 325–42. https://doi.org/10.2307/800457; https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.1979.26.3.03a00080
Pietraszewski, D. and Schwartz, A. (2014) Evidence that accent is a dedicated dimension of social categorization, not a byproduct of coalitional categorization. Evolution and Human Behavior 35(1): 51–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.09.005
Piller, I. (2016) Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice: An Introduction to Applied Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937240.001.0001
Pomerantz, A. (1984) Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In J. M. Atkinson and J. Heritage (eds) Structures of Social Action: Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction 57–101. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511665868.008
Potter, J. and Hepburn, A. (2010) Putting aspiration into words: ‘laugh particles’, managing descriptive trouble and modulating action. Journal of Pragmatics 42(6): 1543–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.10.003
Powell, R. and Robinson, D. (n.d.) Housing, ethnicity and advanced marginality in England. Master’s thesis, University of Sheffield, UK.
Raki?, T., Steffens, M. C. and Mummendey, A. (2011) Blinded by the accent! The minor role of looks in ethnic categorization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100(1): 16. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021522
Raymond, C. W. (2018) On the relevance and accountability of dialect: conversation analysis and dialect contact. Journal of Sociolinguistics 22: 161–89. https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12277
Robinson, J. D. (2006) Managing trouble responsibility and relationships during conversational repair. Communication Monographs 73(2): 137–61. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637750600581206
Schegloff, E. A. (2007) Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791208
Scollon, R. and Scollon, S.W. (2001) Discourse and intercultural communication. In D. Tannen, H. E. Hamilton and D. Schiffrin (eds) The Handbook of Discourse Analysis 538–47. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.
Selting, M., Auer, P., Barth-Weingarten, D., Bergmann, J. R., Bergmann, P., Birkner, K., Couper-Kuhlen, E. et al. (2009) Gesprächsanalytisches Transkriptionssystem 2 (GAT2). Gesprächsforschung: Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion.
Smith, D. P. (2002) Rural gatekeepers and ‘greentrified’ pennine rurality: opening and closing the access gates? Social & Cultural Geography 3(4): 447–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/1464936021000032432; https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2002.9709634
Spencer-Oatey, H. (2000) Culturally Speaking. Managing Rapport through Talk Across Cultures. London: Continuum.
Steffensen, S. V. and Fill, A. (2014) Ecolinguistics: the state of the art and future horizons. Language Sciences 41: 6–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2013.08.003
Stevanovic, M. (2013) Managing participation in interaction: the case of humming. Text & Talk 33(1): 113–37. https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0006
Subtirelu, N. C. (2015) ‘She does have an accent but …’: race and language ideology in students’ evaluations of mathematics instructors on RateMyProfessors.com. Language in Society 44(1): 35–62. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404514000736
Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A., Nadal, K. L. and Esquilin, M. (2007) Racial microaggressions in everyday life: implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist 62(4): 271. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271
Tajfel, H. (1981) Social stereotypes and social groups. In J. Turner and H. Giles (eds) Intergroup Behaviour 144–67. Oxford: Blackwell.
The Casey Review (2016) The Casey Review. A Review into Opportunity and Integration. Retrieved on 17 July 2019 from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575973/The_Casey_Review_Report.pdf.
The Guardian (2018) Bias in Britain (3 December). Retrieved on 27 March 2019 from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/series/bias-in-britain/2018/dec/03/all.
The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford (2014). Bulgarians & Romanians in the British National Press: 1 December 2012–1 December 2013. Retrieved on 17 July 2019 from http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Report-Bulgarians_Romanians_Press_0.pdf.
Van der Bracht, K., Coenen, A. and Van de Putte, B. (2015) The not-in-my-property syndrome: the occurrence of ethnic discrimination in the rental housing market in Belgium. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 41(1): 158–75. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2014.913476
Women’s Housing Forum (2019) Women, Money and Housing Report 2019. Retrieved on 18 October 2019 from https://www.womenshousingforum.org/s/Womens-Housing-Forum-report-2019-digital.pdf.
Zhao, B., Ondrich, J. and Yinger, J. (2006) Why do real estate brokers continue to discriminate? Evidence from the 2000 Housing Discrimination Study. Journal of Urban Economics 59(3): 394–419. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2005.12.001
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.