WP1: Discourse Communities Essay
A Discourse a way of being in the world, described by James Paul Gee, It is a combination of your doing, valuing, being and valuing. (“Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics”, Gee. A discourse community is best described as a group of people who share the same common goals, as well as appreciating the same values. (“The Concept of Discourse Community”, Swales” Members of a discourse group also communicate in the same genres and “lexis” which is vocabulary that only that group understands. (Swales) We as people in todays society are members of different discourse communities all throughout our life time. Swales wrote “Discourse Communities have changing memberships; Individuals enter as apprentices and leave by death or in less involuntary ways.” You can enter a variety of communities that help influence your life. You may enter as an apprentice and then work your way up to an experienced member. Being a part of a variety of discourse communities in my life, I’ve realized that I have a certain personality in each of them, and it raises the question of “which one is really myself?” or is it me being in these different group that actually forms me as a person?
Family is an example of a discourse community that you are born into. This environment requires love and support for one another. You have to be emotionally there all of the time. In my family we all share the same moral values of loyalty and respect. In this discourse we all speak the same language and communicate in the same genres of social media and group text messaging. These are good ways for us to stay in the loop with each others lives and daily conflicts. There are different topics inside the walls of family that only we understand, because we have all of the history between each other. Topics such as nick names, inside jokes, and knowing things that you are aloud to bring up and things that are better left unsaid are all examples of what makes us unique. Your relatives are where you learn your first views of culture and belief systems that help sculpt you as the person you are today. We share the same goal of keeping the family name for generations to generations all with the same credo. When I’m around members of this discourse community, it’s where I feel least like my true self. I try to not make this sound like a negative factor, because it’s not, it’s just the truth of it all. A true identity crisis, with my foot half way in such an important piece of my life. It’s not to say that I don’t love, enjoy, and respect them, but once I exit this community and enter another one I see changes in myself to where I act more like my genuine self and feel a sense of comfort of not over thinking my every actions.
When I turned eighteen years old I entered a role as a makeup artist at MAC cosmetics, one of the most respected companies in the prestige cosmetic world. This is where I entered a community that felt like home. I am fearless and confident here. This is where I realized who I organically was and being part of this community has not only changed my life but I’ve seen it influence my other discourse communities. Everyone at MAC speaks the same lexis, we all just get it. It clicks. We talk about makeup all day and collaborate ideas to vibe off of each others energy, this may seem like a foreign language to some. Everyone has huge personalities and are all very unique but share the same goals in artistry. We are all dripping in trendy black clothing, passionately creative, and some of the most driven people you will ever meet. I feel like myself here, and I’m all in it. I can’t just wear crazy makeup around my family or even class mates without getting a second look or having to give an explanation. I always feel a sense of judgement outside of the walls of my career. I don’t feel like people on the outside of these walls understand why I am this passionate about my job or why I don’t have a “grown up” career choice such as a doctor or a lawyer.
Obviously I can’t just stay in one discourse community all one-hundred-and-sixty-eight hours of the week. But it does get exhausting having to switch my personalities on a daily basis. I’m a completely different person throughout the adventures at school, work, and around my family and friends. “At any moment we are using language we must say or write the right thing in the right way while playing the right social role and (appearing) to hold the right values, beliefs, and attitudes.” (“Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics”, Gee) When Gee says this, I feel as if there is a heavier pressure in trying to obtain a Discourse. When I am writing or speaking in a discourse community, I want that moment to be candid. Otherwise would I really be in that discourse If I had to question my thoughts of beliefs and values of the correct content? I disagree with him because it’s almost forced when you have to question if you are saying the “right” thing or not. What is the “right” thing to say? And who is it up to? Now, I don’t want to appear phony or fraud in my life while being one way in one place and flip the switch the next.
Gee, James P. “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction.” Journal of Education 171.1 (1989): 5-17. Print
Swales, John. “The Concept of Discourse Community.” Genre Analysis: English in Academic and research settings. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1990 21- 32. Print.