Nonacademic Writing: Social Theory and Technology

By Ann Hill Duin; Craig J. Hansen | Go to book overview

8
Social Theories, Workplace Writing, and Collaboration: Implications and Directions for Research

Jo Allen East Carolina University Carol Thompson Texas Christian University

In 1985, Odell and Goswami published a collection of essays on nonacademic writing, including an essay by Lester titled Nonacademic Writing: The Social Perspective (pp. 231-248) and Odell Beyond the Text: Relations between Writing and Social Context (pp. 248-280). Both essays acknowledge the social aspects of communication: Communication exists within and between groups of readers and writers and serves to bind those people in some purposeful way for the good of at least one of those groups. Faigley, for instance, noted the textual, individual, and social perspectives of writing, addressing the possibility that "writing . . . is a social act that takes place in a structure of authority, changes constantly as society changes, has consequences in the economic and political realms, and shapes the writer as much as it is shaped by the writer" (p. 226). Because it is not the purpose of his chapter to investigate the means by which these activities and responsibilities control or at least affect the writing endeavor, his work focuses primarily on the kinds of research questions and appropriate methodologies that could be generated by such this assumption.

As a follow-up to Faigley's chapter, Odell cited his research on the particular questions and strategies for communicating from the perspective of one particular group of analysts. He noted the individual writers' justifications for including certain bits of information in the documents they create, as well as whether they are willing to delete various segments of their text. Influencing these writers' decisions are issues of corporate culture -- the social attitudes, behaviors, and expectations that pervade a particular corporation's communications. These aspects are informed by the writers' previous experiences in creating documents for a particular

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