IBEW Midterm Proposal

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Posted on 21 Mar 2013 21:31

I plan on writing my piece about a discourse community in the real-world called the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local #3 Union), but many do not know what a discourse community is. According to John Swales in his essay “The Concept of Discourse Community, discourse communities are, “…groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals”. My midterm will look at a discourse community that is very important in everyday life, a workers’ union. It will describe why it fits the definition of a discourse community and its importance to how the community works. I will be able to do this by applying John Swales six guidelines for what makes a group a discourse community to the characteristics of the union.

Description of the current situation:
People choose to study discourse communities because they help explain how a group works together to achieve a common goal. In my studies, I have read several essays on discourse communities, but people have different opinions on how to define these discourse communities. John Swales had one definition of a discourse community while another linguistics analyst, John Paul Gee, had a different definition of it. In my research, I am going to focus on John Swales’ ideas about discourse communities because I agree with his definition more than Gee’s.

Description of project plan:
The first part of my research will be to reference what John Swales talked about in his essay about discourse communities and show how my discourse community reaches his six points. My major steps will be to interview my father and use a copy of the union’s newspaper to show how it works as a discourse community. Also, I will use a copy of the union’s local newspaper and the union’s international newspaper and show the differences in each of these communications. My minor steps will include sorting out what specific information I need to put in this research project and how I can apply them to Swale’s six characteristics.

Review of qualifications:
I think that I will be able to pull this project off because of my accessibility to the materials for the discourse community. Usually, this kind of community would keep outsiders who aren’t part of the union out of the loop on their ideas, but since my father is a member I have the ability to access the information. Also, I have my father at my disposal if I have any questions that the written material cannot answer adequately. I will be able to view both the international and local versions of the newspaper, the newsletter that is meant for outsiders, and be able to interview my dad for any other questions that I cannot receive the answers to from the printed materials.

I think that the hardest things about my project will be to find out information from my dad since he is not a “higher-up” in the union, and also to find out the information that I need to make the project complete. The other challenge that I currently have is that I just found out that my dad is working extra overtime this week and next. This will make it harder to find time to interview him and get the answer that I need. I also think it may be tough to word the interview questions correctly so that my dad understands the answers that I need from him. In terms of the written materials, there should not be that much trouble since I have access to the materials.

Benefits and conclusion:
I think that this will benefit both the class, and me personally because it is bringing up a discourse community that not many of the other students have mentioned. Some students are bringing up more present day discourse communities such as reddit, but I am using a discourse community that has been a very important part of American, and World History. I think that I will discover interesting things about how the union works by relating the characteristics of the union to Swale’s guidelines for discourse communities.

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