Discourse communities are defined by John Swales (1990) six characteristics. The characteristics of a discourse community are: having common goals, Ways for its members to communicate, mechanisms to provide information and feedback, utilizing one or more genres, acquiring a lexis, and a threshold level of members with a certain degree of knowledge and expertise within the groupa. The discourse community I chose to examine was l.D.E.A.S. l.D.E.A.S stands for Intellectual Decisions on Envtronmental Awareness Solutions. It is a non-profit organization started to educate and engage students in enVironmental issues affecting their local environment as well as surrounding communities. l.D.E.A.SEEs common goal is to create awareness and to come up. With new ideas for research and action to help better the environment. Communication is key between members and the community.
In order to create awareness, l.D.E.A.St has to post flyers, pass out newsletters and reach out to people through face book and twitter. One researcher, Mirabelli, used these characteristics to prove that Waiters and waitresses use the menu as a genre and as a means to communicate With the customers. I related the menu as Waiters and waitresses means of communication to l.D.E.A.S. memberaus newsletters as a Way to communicate With the public. Gee, another researcher, studied discourse communities too, but focused mainly on assimilation, I found the idea of assimilation is key in being a part of a discourse community, One must assimilate in the group to be recognized as a member. In the followmg, I will take what these researchers have found out about discourse communities and add that Without effective communicationauiwritten genresaJIJbetween members and between members and the public, a discourse community will be non-existent.
By researching and analyzmg the Written genres of IDEAS as a discourse community, I am going Io show that communication is crucial and that using Written genres to communicate effectively is essential, The purpose of my research is to analyze four genres of this discourse community and to draw many conclusions on each of Swales six characteristics of a discourse community. I started my ethnography by interVIeWing a member of l.D.E.A.S. I met With Christine, who is a freshman at the University of Central Florida and is an active member of this organization. I inten/iewed a member of the organization to help me get a better understanding of the goals and values of the group as well as a closer look into their genres. I met With her in a private room at the library on October 30th, 2010. I used garage band to record the intenliew. I started by introducing myself and my purpose for interviewing her.
I then Went into asking her questions pertaining to her organization. She was very thorough and helpful in giving me as much information as she could. being that I am not an active member of the group. After our inter sat in on a meeting beIWeen the members, I,D.E.A,S holds meetings once a month to discuss upcoming events, new ideas. and Ways to create awareness in the community. Before the meeting started, members signed in on a signrup sheet and next to it was another signrup sheet to volunteer for upcoming events. To start the meeting off, they discussed topics brought up in last month’s meeting. Next, they discussed the volunteer signrup sheet. Group leaders asked fellow members to come up With ideas to get people involved and to volunteer in events. After a long discussion, group members came up With making flyers and stickers to pass out in front of the student union. analyzed the data collected by applying it to Swales six characteristics of a discourse community. The characteristics I focused on are the set of common goals, the genres, mechanisms to communicate mutually and mechanisms to proVide information and feedback. A genre is a text that helps facilitate communication between people.
This organization has many genres including a face book page to keep in touch with students. aWebsite, a twitter page and emails. They also give out flyers, newsletters and stickers to raise awareness for the organization and What they stand for. As previously stated, I related the menu as waiters and waitresses means of communication, in Mirabellialjs study, to l.D.E.A.SsaJIJ memberaﬂls newsletters as away to communicate with the public. I added on to Mirabelliaiis research with discourse communities and found that there not only needs to be communication. but that it needs to be effective communication. What I found with I.D.E.A.S is that they have lots of different written genres to communicate. but the genres are difficult to understand. which makes the genres ineffective means of communication. One of ID EASaiis main goals is to create awareness in the community.
They try very hard to make newsletters and flyers to pass out to students in hopes to gain more members as well as more volunteers. The problem is that their genres conflicts with their main goal, which is that they want to find easy methods to create awareness. The written genres are difficult to comprehend, which in turn contradicts them wanting to get more people involved. The genres are written more for members of the group rather than non-members. The newsletters use environmental terms that non-members are not able to understand. It is as if their genres are written only for group members. which is not what is intended. This makes it very difficult to gain new members and volunteers. This problem affects their mechanisms to proVIde information and feedback because their information is too involved for nonrmembers. Members created a face book page. a twitter blog and a website to generate awareness.
The website and face book page used envrronmental lingo to state their goals and what they want to accomplish over the next few years. For example. I.D.E.A.S uses ecosystem facilitation. On their website they state that aJBy incorporating ecosystem facilitation we strategically plant local native aquatics into these retention ponds where water flows in and out of these man- made systems.” and so on. When I first read this I thought to myself, how can anyone other than members even understand what they are saying because I had no clue what they meant by that. If I.D.E.A.S would use laymenaiis terms to communicate effectively with non-members. they would find that more people would want to participate and volunteer to help better the environment. On the other hand, communication between members within the group itself is great. The genres between members. such as emails. are crucial in attending meetings and events.
Without emails group members would not know when there is a changed meeting or a canceled event. The Miller blog is mostly for group members too. Here group members can post new ideas for projects or can Just follow the blog. Monthly meetings are also held to discuss their goals for the month and what they accomplished the prevtous month. I.D.E.A.S. is an organization that cares about the environment. They display all of SwaleaIJJs six characteristics of a discourse community. They also have many goals and values they want to fulfill. ideas for research and development. and ways to create awareness on campus and in the surrounding community. After looking in depth at the genres and main goals of this organization. I found that they contradict each other, I hope that after reading this. I have helped in better understanding why communication is so important and also why communicating effectively is essential in a discourse community.