Discourse “operates within convention defined by communities, be they academic disciplines or social groups” (Swayes, 1990)

  • Introduction

Discourse refers to the thought-out and intelligent communication about a particular topic or subject. Often, individuals can form a community and share common values and beliefs that shape their discourse. In this case, discourse describes how individuals share a codified language that represents these values and beliefs. Furthermore, discourse communities are formed of individuals who have similar beliefs, attitudes, opinions, likes and dislikes.

The use after that of some common patterns of speech and communication leads to the development of a discourse community. According to Charles Bazerman of the University of California, a discourse community identifies a group of people who share common language norms, characteristics, patterns or practices as a consequence of the interactions the people have between themselves (Bazerman, 2009).

Discourse communities is used to “signify a cluster of ideas; that language use in a group is a form of social behavior, that discourse is a means of maintaining and extending the group’s knowledge and initiating new members into the group, and that discourse is epistemic or constitutive of the group’s knowledge” (Swayes,1990).

My discourse community

 the Discussion Group of the American History Class HIS17B

The discussion group of the American History class HIS17B  this quarter has made me realize the importance and definition of a discourse community in an institution setting. Though the community is young, the activities and the relationships colleagues have developed have shaped an important discourse. It is clear that our similar interests and common goals have made us one united community led by the discourse that has been defined by the members. 

The Concept of Discourse Community

  • Common Interests and Public Goals
  • Mechanisms of Communicating among Members
  • Information and Feedback
  • Genres and Genre Conventions
  • Shared and Specialized Terminology
  • Members with Expertise


Stacey Pigg in her YouTube video ENC 1102 Discourse Community Introduction (Stacey Pigg, 2013) 

  • Common Interests and Public Goals

The most basic thing of a discourse community is that it is formed by members sharing the same likes and dislikes and want to gain something in common. 

This property resonates well with the history discussion group as the members share many goals and aspirations. 


All the group members show passion in understanding past events and deducing important lessons from them. For instance, most of our members totally agree with the 1998 article by Peter Stearns, detailing the reason why the study of history is important (American Historical Association, 2013). Also, we share same goals: to get better grades in the class and to gain more history knowledge from each other.

  • Mechanisms of Communicating among Members

The members in the discourse community should have access to talk, to discuss and to share information. It should give members process to solve problems or creating events.

The history discussion group enjoys several means of communicating with each other and sharing information. 

The history discussion group enjoys several means of sharing information. One of the common ways is the app we used called "wechat". All the members could talk to each other easily by using the phone. Also, we set up a mailing group that could be administered by any member and thus any issue from any member was not blocked from view. A member can submit an issue, advice or even resources such books and circulars for a certain topic of interest. 

  • Information and Feedback

Discourse community is not like blog or chatroom, members should have enough things to talk about and may get useful reply by others members or authoritative people.

The students at the discussion group have enough resources to facilitate information sharing and The community of the senior students at the discussion group have enough resources to facilitate information sharing.

The history discussion group exchange useful resources to expand the knowledge base. Information collected in the mailing groups has been designated to a storage that is accessible for all members. Also, we may get feedback and recommendation that is presented by the senior members in the group or even the professor. 

  • Genres and Genre Conventions

 Genres articulate the operations of a discourse community. The community may process one or more genres to achieve its goals. Genre conventions are always considering the aspects of any genres. 

For example, a horror movie without a few recognizable elements — things like monsters, creepy settings, isolation, or darkness — wouldn't necessarily be considered a "horror" film anymore by most fans and critics.("What Are Genre Conventions? (with pictures)," n.d.)

For each of the meetings that are organized by the group, the members prepare reports of the understanding of the class. The works among the members of the group are well laid out and directly represent a historical study.

As for genre conventions, the group’s activities are well focused on important occurrences in American history. For instance, the group has done studies on the Civil War and considered the war as essential due to most of the found of the great kingdoms are by the success of the war. 

  • Shared and Specialized Terminology

With the time pass by, the discourse community should build their own word with daily communicating. One can build interesting and useful terminologies and be recognized by others.

All the terminologies among the history discussion group have a strong historical background and represent political facts. 

They are efforts by the group members to enhance their communication and pass messages that are more easily understood by the members. For instance, the definition of the various major historical events has some common language and words that tend to lean on a more political and historical side. Like "A New Nixon", "The Plumbers".

  • Members with Expertise

To identify the discourse community, it should have knowledgeable members to teach and to share information. These members should have a suitable degree of knowledge on the topic that distinguishes the community.

The history discussion group has not only members specialized in American history, but also others members have understandings of other parts of history that can be shared with.

The history group has many members well knowledgeable in the field. All the members are continually learning and gaining more information on the topics they might not familiar with by others. The constant knowledge sharing and introduction to the specialized terminologies of the group ensure that the community remains active and relevant. 

  • Conclusion
All the evidence has shown that the history discussion group I attend could be identified as a discourse community. The community has been in existence for quite a while, and the quality of reports collected keep getting better. Though I only attend the group for a year, I meet many new friends with the same interest and gain much more knowledge than in the class. By observing and participating in the history discussion group, I will try to get into more discourse communities and encourage others to do so.
  • Hopefully

The discourse communities serve to help people make sense of events. I got friends, knowledge and better grades in the history class. I hope everyone could find one or more of their favorite discourse communities and get the things they want.

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Public - 6/4/16, 12:34 PM