One way to examine discourse is to explore how groups of people communicate their messages. A discourse community is a "social group that communicates at least in part via written texts and shares common goals, values, and writing standards, a specialized vocabulary, and specialized genres." Beaufort, Anne, College Writing and Beyond.
Different discourse communities will often discuss the same topic in very different ways. The concept map below shows some discourse communities involved in conversations related to obesity.
Examples of communities
Be careful to sufficiently narrow your focus so you are not trying to analyze a community with millions of members who have vastly different discourse practices (i.e. “scientists” or “business people”)
Be sensitive to stereotypes if you analyze a community associated with race, religion, etc.
If your assignment focuses on a single discourse community, please watch the video below. It will provide an explanation of the focus of this assignment, tips on finding sources, and suggestions on analyzing the sources you find.
Clickable bookmarks to take you to the "chapters" of this video (total duration: 15 min. 56 sec.)
Introduction (27 sec.)
Choosing a discourse community (3 min. 5 sec.)
The focus of your analysis (1 min. 18 sec.)
Finding your sources: brainstorming (41 sec.)
Finding primary texts (1 min. 57 sec.)
Professional websites (1 min. 46 sec.)
Social media sites (1 min. 10 sec.)
Primary research (50 sec.)
Secondary research (41 sec.)
Working with your sources (1 min. 12 sec.)
Putting it all together (59 sec.)
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