chapter  Chapter 8
30 Pages

Communities of Discourse

WithM. Jimmie Killingsworth, Michael K. Gilbertson

Writing and reading are activities motivated and guided by community perceptions and values. If it is true that, in inventing and drafting a text, writers cooperate with others, it is likewise a sure bet that, in later stages, these writers are even more likely to collaborate. The interest in discourse communities has spawned an emergent school of theorists, the “social constructionists”, and has awakened many researchers in composition and professional writing to the possible relevance of methodologies pioneered by ethnographers. The chapter explores a working definition of some kinds of discourse communities. Local discourse communities are groups of readers and writers who habitually work together in companies, colleges, departments, neighborhoods, government agencies, or other groups defined by specific demographic features. Global discourse communities, by contrast, are groups of writers and readers defined exclusively by a commitment to particular kinds of action and discourse, regardless of where and with whom they work.