Steve's (Awesome) Project Proposal

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Posted on 21 Mar 2013 19:06


A discourse community is a group of people who may or may not meet together, but is united under common goals. There are a number of criteria for valid discourse communities; however, the most important fact, which is also one of the only reasons the community exists at all, is that the members share goals they are trying to attain. In this piece, I will discuss a specific discourse community that has relevance to me, The Catholic League. I will explain where I currently am in terms of research and what I know about this Church organization, how I intend to approach my research for this project, why I will be able to complete this project effectively, any challenges I may face, and why this community is worth taking an interest in at all.

Current Situation

As a former member of the Catholic League through my high school, I already have some first-hand knowledge of the meetings and objectives. From my readings on the topic, I am aware now that the organization is indeed a discourse community; the Swales model for discourse communities can be applied to the Catholic League. I have been utilizing the six criteria Swales set forth very often in determining what groups in reality do qualify as types of discourse communities.
By studying these organizations, one can reveal how certain groups function, communicate among themselves, complete broad tasks, etc. Looking in depth at discourse communities provides the researcher the opportunity to see how very large groups operate and succeed, and what separates the very successful groups from the struggling groups; breaking down each aspect of the community could help the researcher see what characteristics of the group affect it positively and negatively.

Project Plan

For my project, I intend to research the Catholic League, an organization that defends the Catholic Church’s teachings and the civil rights of all. Researching this discourse community will be fairly straightforward due to my past involvement in the organization. I plan to go to a club meeting at my high school to see how the members communicate ideas on a small scale and accomplish goals set forth by the presidents of the chapters of the community. Interviews will also be a means of research; I plan to interview former members as well as current members to see who regards themselves as the “insiders” and “outsiders.” The Catholic League website is another great source for research as it allows me the opportunity to see what exactly the top officials view as worth sharing with the rest of the community, which consists of several thousand members who check the website and subscribe to the newsletter. I would then take all of the research I have collected and apply the Swales model for to see how closely the Catholic League aligns with it.


I think I will be able to complete this project successfully because of my interest in the community; my interest should spark the willingness to go further with my research into the deeper functions and mechanisms that make the Catholic League successful. I will be using skills in writing to actually put the midterm paper together at the end; however, in terms of research, I will interview and record conversations with members of the League. I know many members who I could potentially interview, which will make this aspect of my research simple and easy to accomplish. I can speak with the heads of chapters as well to gain an insider’s perspective as to what the goals and intentions of the community are as a whole.


The only challenges I may run into are minor ones and not integral to the outcome and finished product of my midterm. One issue I may run into is having trouble finding a time between now and when the project is due to meet with all of the members of the club I wish to interview. I know that there are at least two people I will definitely be able to meet with and speak to about the discourse community, so if all other options fail, I will still have these two members at my disposal to interview and question.
Another issue that may arise is that of conflicting view points among members; The Catholic League, like many other Church based organizations, holds some very extreme views on religious matters so it is more than likely that the ideas of someone at a lower level may conflict with the values of those at the leadership positions of the. Either way, any differences in opinions will help my research develop further and help me more accurately pinpoint the role and objective of this group of strong-willed minds.
I suppose that a recurring challenge in my writing will be keeping an objective viewpoint consistently. As a former member, I do appreciate and support most of the work the Catholic League performs, although there


The benefits of this research project will be a further understanding of a modern day discourse community. I hope to uncover what specifically separates successful organizations from the struggling ones by researching what the Catholic League does that makes its work especially effective, whether it be part of its communication methods or the actual events it sponsors. Undoubtedly, I will learn some interesting facts about the Catholic League and its members, and hopefully I can use my research to show how such a unique group of people with varying views, can unite to accomplish so very much by means of a relatively small discourse community.

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