Let’s Get Started!
● What do we call a group of people working towards
a common goal in writing?
● How can we define this group of people in order to
assist us in our own writing?
● How does understanding this group
impact our understanding of a writing
What is Discourse Community?
● Group of people who are trying to achieve specific common
● Accomplish these goals through the use of
intercommunication among members of the community
● Communicate through a number of different ways and
develop some specific words and sayings unique to that
● Meets all of Swales’ 6 Characteristics
The Six Characteristics
● There are six characteristics of a Discourse
Community defined by John Swales in
“The Concept of Discourse Community.”
● If a community does not have all of these
characteristics then it is not a Discourse
1. “A discourse community has a broadly agreed set
of common public goals.”
2. “A discourse community has mechanisms of
intercommunication among its members.”
3. "A discourse community uses its participatory
mechanisms primarily to provide information and
4. "A discourse community utilizes and hence
possesses one or more genres in the
communicative furtherance of its aims.”
5. “In addition to owning genres, a discourse
community has acquired a specific lexis.”
6. “A discourse community has a threshold level of
members with a suitable degree of relevant
content and discoursal expertise"
Example 1: A Religion - Christianity
A religion is an example of a Discourse Community
because it fulfills Swales’ six characteristics.
1. Common Goals: spreading the faith, coming together with
certain values, achieving enlightenment, spreading good morals
2. Intercommunication: Face-to-face at meetings, Bulletins, Online
3. The goal of the mechanisms it uses is to provide information to
the churchgoers and give feedback to higher members.
4. Genres: The Bible, Holy Books, Psalms, Prayers, Sermons, Songs,
5. Specific Lexis: Pope, Amen, Host, Tabernacle, Pews, God, Saints,
6. Members of Expertise: Pope is the leader, Bishops, Priests and
Deacons teach the lower level churchgoers.
Example 2: A Sorority - Alpha Delta Pi
A sorority is an example of a discourse community
that uses organizational writing.
1. Common Goals: participate in philanthropy events, raise
money for own philanthropy, grow close as a sisterhood
2. Intercommunication: GinSystem, chapter facebook groups,
weekly chapter meetings, meetings meal plan locations
3. The goal of the mechanisms it uses is to provide
information to the members of the chapter
4. Genres: instagram account, twitter account, public
facebook group, banners outside of house and blog
5. Specific Lexis: alpha class instead of pledge class, WLFEO as
open motto, Big and Little Diamond sisters instead of
6. Members of Expertise: President and executive board,
deltas are initiated members, alphas are new members and
pi are alumni
Example 3: An Honor Society –
The Burnett Honors College
An honor society is an example of a discourse community because
it meets Swales’ six characteristics.
1. Common goals: to remain a member in good standing and
participating in the society’s volunteer and tutoring events
2. Intercommunication: weekly/monthly meetings, Facebook group,
3. The goal of the mechanisms it uses is to provide information to the
members of the honor society.
4. Genres: member handbook, newsletters, public Facebook group, etc.
5. Specific Lexis: merit points, service hours, Honors GPA, etc.
6. Members of Expertise: President, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President
Definition: The writing situation that the writer responds to.
Audience: who you are writing to
Exigence: the problem that you are writing to solve
Constraints: limitations you have to factor into your writing
Relation to Discourse Community: The members of the
discourse community constitute the audience of the rhetorical
situation. The exigence of the writing works towards the
common goals of the discourse community you are writing for.
Constraints include using the genre, lexis, and methods of the
Definition: Writing guidelines that help you
respond to a particular situation.
Relation to Discourse Community: A Discourse
Community uses certain genres in their
Definition: The principle that states
that all writing comes from previous
● Iterability: incorporating ideas and texts from other writings to add
to your writing to enhance its meaning
● Presupposition: assumption that the reader will understand implied
writing without explaining completely
Relation to Discourse Community: Intertextuality helps members of a
Discourse Community build on the previous knowledge and writings of the
Importance of Discourse Community
● Discourse Communities help you:
○ Write in situations where communities have specific language
and goals of writing
○ Determine what is the best method to approach rhetorical
○ Guide your writing
● Knowing the discourse community you are
addressing when you are writing is helpful in
organizing and effectively getting your point
across to your audience.
● Discourse community helps list and analyze constraints of rhetorical
Using Discourse Community
● Understand the common goals of your community and plan your
writing to match those goals
● Choose a genre that is common within
your discourse community
● Understand your audience
○ Community specific terms and sayings
● Get revision by experts if possible