A tad late Success vs. Failure

Blog » A tad late Success vs. Failure

Posted on 16 Mar 2013 23:21

In Elizabeth Wardle’s article “Identity, Authority, and Learning to write in New Workplaces,” she focuses on how an identity is important in the workplace or a discourse community. She describes three theories of identity and authority that are quite different from Swales’ definition of a discourse community. Wardle uses sociologist Etienne Wenger's theory of communities of practice to describe a workplace. So according to Wenger, new workers in the workspace have to find a way to adapt and employ the work the experienced workers do. One must figure out the correct way of writing, and imagine one’s own work properly. Moreover, one must be comfortable with the originality and format of the business, even down to the small components like writing and speaking. Not only do newcomers need to learn the necessary skills, but also they have to reconstruct their imagination. Wardle uses sociologists who study apprenticeship to illustrate her idea of a community.
On the other hand, John Swales focuses on defining a discourse community using six characteristics. He uses a discourse community that he’s a part of, the Hong Kong Study Circle (HKSC), so he can do his research quite simply. Swales analyzes the bi-monthly Journal and Newsletter in order to define the intercommunication that’s necessary for a discourse community. His analysis of his own discourse community reveals that one does not need to be born into a discourse community (such as Gee’s method), but one can learn the trade, as Swales did with his Hong Kong Study Circle. The way Swales did his research is that he broke down the six characteristics and applied it to his example of a discourse community to put his definition into perspective, which I find highly effective.
The main difference between Swales and Wardle is that Swales defines a discourse community in six specific steps, while Wardle kind of just generalizes about identity and adjusting your imagination. She delves into the importance of learning to write, think, and adjust to a new workplace, while Swales explicitly defines a discourse community. Moreover, Wardle isn’t a part of the workplace or community that she discussed, while Swales is an active member of his discourse community. Also, Wardle focuses on the failure of joining a discourse community, which although Swales mentions how he failed at first, he doesn’t discuss why he failed, which I found quite interesting. However, Swales and Wardle both noted that a discourse community involves certain lexis that member must become acquainted with upon becoming a member of their respective community.
Both Swales and Wardle can be useful for my own discourse community project because Swales focuses on defining a successful discourse community, while Wardle delves into the flaw and failures of a discourse community. I could use both of these models when doing my own analysis of a discourse community.

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