Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts

Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts

Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts

Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts

Synopsis

Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts offers a unique examination of writing as it is applied and used in academic and workplace settings. Based on a 7-year multi-site comparative study of writing in different university courses and matched workplaces, this volume presents new perspectives on how writing functions within the activities of various disciplines: law and public administration courses and government institutions; management courses and financial institutions; social-work courses and social-work agencies; and architecture courses and architecture practice. Using detailed ethnography, the authors make comparisons between the two types of settings through an understanding of how writing is operative within the particularities of these settings.

Although the research was initially established to further understanding of the relationships between writing in academic and workplace settings, it has evolved to examining writing as it is embedded in both types of settings--where social relationships, available tools, and historical, cultural, temporal, and physical location are all implicated in complex ways in the decisions people make as writers. Readers of this volume will discover that the uniqueness of each setting makes salient different aspects of writers and writing, resulting in complex, and potentially unsettling implications for writing theory and the teaching of writing.

Excerpt

It is largely in academic settings that writing calls attention to itself and, more often than not, is regarded in isolation from the larger social and communicative action to which it is so intrinsically bound. On the other hand, in non-academic workplace settings, writing is seldom regarded (when it is regarded at all) as apart from the goals, occasions, and contexts that engender writing. In these settings, writing is a means, a tool in accomplishing larger goals, which may involve actions other than writing and other participants who function in a variety of roles. It is just this kind of disjunction between academic and workplace settings that occasions the study from which this book derives.

This 7-year collaboration between researchers at Carleton University, Ottawa, and McGill University, Montreal, involves several different academic and workplace settings. It draws on a wide variety of theoretical approaches to make sense of what was observed and recorded in these locales and the written material and interview data that emerged. Begun largely with the intention of understanding the relationships between writing in academic and workplace settings, the research has evolved to examining writing as it is embedded in both kinds of settings--settings where social relationships, available tools, historical, cultural, temporal and physical location are all implicated in complex and intricate ways in the decisions people make as writers. Each setting in its uniqueness makes salient different aspects of writers and writing with complex and probably unsettling implications for writing theory and the teaching of writing.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This long and multifaceted study has relied on the generous assistance of several people and agencies. We are deeply indebted to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding the research that provides the material for this book. We also wish to thank the several partners in our research, benefactors who remain anonymous, who afforded us the time of their employees . . .

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