Workplace genres: a sociohistorical study of communicative practices in a production company

Date
1998
Authors
Zachry, Mark
Major Professor
Advisor
Charlotte Thralls
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Altmetrics
Authors
Research Projects
Organizational Units
English
Organizational Unit
Journal Issue
Series
Department
English
Abstract

Studies of communication in the workplace have traditionally addressed a limited set of formal texts (e.g., memos, proposals, procedures) and described how those texts circulate in more or less predictable systems. Consequently, many of our assumptions about professional communication activities depend on simple transactional or rhetorical models that do not take into account historical factors and conceptualize too narrowly;This study addresses social and historical variation in a single company's communicative habits from 1920 until 1985 to illustrate how rhetorical performances in the workplace operate in complex networks of activity. This study challenges formalist conceptions of professional communication by examining how communicative practices emerge, develop, and decay as professionals use texts to negotiate their work activities over extended periods of time. This historical study of the complex and often unpredictable interplay of workplace activities and communicative practices reveals how seemingly stable workplace genres are actually contested sites where communicators make decisions to vary and repeat prior practices;Workplace activities at The Rath Packing Company of Waterloo, Iowa, form the background for this study. Focusing on the interplay between company activities and communicative practices, the study explores how management techniques, regulatory controls, and technological tools in the twentieth century affected workplace communication.

Comments
Description
Keywords
Citation
Source