Johns & Bucholtz, a Strange Juxtaposition

Blog » Johns & Bucholtz, a Strange Juxtaposition

Posted on 12 Mar 2013 23:48

Mary Bucholtz and Ann M. Johns both are concerned with discourse communities, but in quite different ways. Bucholtz, in her “’Why be Normal?’ Language and Identity Practices in a Community of Nerd Girls," focuses on her downplay of speech communities and her support for practice communities. However, Johns, in her “Discourse Communities and Communities of Practice: Membership, Conflict, and Diversity,” focuses on both speech and practice communities by distinguishing them and then evaluating these communities as a generalized form.

Bucholtz conducted her work through a research on a specific group of “nerd girls” in a California high school. Her initial notion is that the speech community presents difficulties for researchers involved in sociolinguistics of language and gender. Therefore, her studies on the group of nerd girls seem fit as they will help accentuate her argument of language and gender conflicts in the speech community. Her main take is that speech community can be divided into many entities as exemplified by the “nerd group.” She concentrates on even the simplest conversations started by the members such as the one where Carrie asks about the origins of sesame seeds. The conversation is carefully analyzed by Buscholtz, who not only transcribes the conversation but adds even the minutest details of laughing, pauses and talking over each other. Through this conversation, Buscholtz is able to dish out the positive and negative identity practices of the members and the diversity of the speech community.

Johns states that discourse communities focus on text and language while practice communities focus on genres and lexis that primarily concentrates on practices that hold or separate the communities. She then mentions different types of communities to ameliorate her point. She mentions social, political, and recreational, professional, and academic communities. Johns looks at these communities and infers how each community is brought up and how they function according to what they each represent. Johns also talks about how one can be part of a community without any active participation. Her generalized research in different fields of communities help readers view what discourse communities and practice communities really are.

Bucholtz took on a far more specific study than Johns did. However, I can somewhat find a correlation between the studies when looking at what Johns says about members who aren’t REALLY members. In Bucholtz’s conversation analysis, the participants needed to distinguish themselves as nerds or non-nerds; that is, people who want to express their identity as nerds or the people who want to weed out the nerds by recognizing them. Johns’ a bit more generalized study is interesting to look at before looking at Bucholtz. I feel like doing so will help readers absorb Bucholtz’s study in a more effective way as they have the basis set and know what practice and discourse communities are separately.

For my own research, I’m looking into a gaming community separate from the actual game. These people play the game and then come into the community to either profess their skills or learn others’ skills. Therefore, when looking back at Johns’ study, in my community it is easy to apply John’s study to root out the passive members among the active members. I myself am part of the community but I’m more of the passive member in the forum side. I find helpful to look at others’ guides but I don’t find the time spent teaching others’ as worthy as I would the time spent actually playing the game. So in a sense, I’m both a passive and active member of the community but they separate when looking specifically into the language part and the practice part. Unfortunately, Buscholtz’s study won’t be as helpful because she specifically studies the transcription of conversations and in gaming communities, there’s no need to excessively adhere to the details of each conversations.

Leave a comment

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License