In Genre Analysis Swales encouraged us to see genres in terms of the communities in which they are used and as a function of the choices and constraints acting on text producers. It is this sensitivity to community practices which make genre a rich source of insights into two key concepts of the social sciences – community and identity. In this paper I take up these themes to explore the relationships between community expectations and the individual writer. To do so I use a corpus approach to recover evidence for repeated patterns of language which encode disciplinary preferences for different points of view, argument styles, attitudes to knowledge, and relationships between individuals and between individuals and ideas. The paper attempts to show how genre can offer insights into the ways actors understand both the here-and now interaction (the context of situation) and the broader constraints of the wider community which influence that interaction (the context of culture), revealing something of actors' orientations to scholarly communities and the ways they stake out individual positions.
- Academic writing
- Corpus analysis