As we have been discussing in class, discourses are settings that come with an expected set of behaviors, in order to function within the discourse. Another distinguishing feature of discourses is that they require an identity kit required to validate membership within the discourse, which may include a dress code, a specialized vocabulary, etc. For example, a college classroom is a discourse where, in order to adapt and function, one must manifest certain behaviors, such as respect for peers, teachers and you might even have an “identity kit” of a note taking-device, etc. to prove you are a member. Our classroom also constitutes a discourse because we have vocabulary that’s specific to us—memo, “business report”, “executive summary”, etc.
Most importantly, everything we observe in a discourse is indicative of a value system and/or a set of goals. In other words, most everything that occurs within a given discourse is a reflection of the deeply-rooted, goals or values around which the discourse is clustered. And, it is fairly safe to say that discourses are the way that they are because they have some kind of goal. Discourses will often be significantly different from each other. For example, the discourse of a classroom will be different than the discourse of a place of worship, which will be different than the discourse of a night out with friends.
For the sake our business course, we are interested in the discourse of a workplace. It is important to be aware of (and possibly adapt to) the discourse of the professional settings where we will engage, in order to navigate daily operations within that discourse. Just like the how the personalities of companies will differ, the discourses (value systems, goals, expected behavior, required identity kit) will also differ.
This assignment will require that you do some firsthand research and observe a workplace or a classroom setting (though not this one) and write an analysis of the discourse or “culture” of the setting.
Please begin your analysis with a mushroom model, based on our class discussions. Remember our analogy of the mushroom—the part of the organism above the soil is quite small when compared to the vast network of roots below the soil.
I would like you to write two to three pages, detailing what you observe to be the discourse of this setting. Some things you should be looking for and integrating into your analysis:
· Vocabulary—Is there a set of vocabulary one would have to know to function in this setting
· Behaviors—How should people in this discourse conduct themselves? Is it an easygoing environment? Is it a bit more conservative? What’s the general mood like?
· Dress-code—What kind of uniform(if any) would one need to navigate this discourse? Is there a formal dress-code that’s upheld? Is it a more causal atmosphere where formal dress would be laughed at?
· Modes of Communication How does the culture of the setting influence communication? For example, if the workplace is fairly traditional, with hierarchies clearly designated, how does that influence how we might communicate with our boss? Consider things like medium, formality, tone, etc.
· Feel free to list any other observations you make about what will comprise the “identity kit” that’s needed in order to exist within this discourse.
· Most importantly, for every observation you make, or consistent pattern you observe, be asking why? Beneath everything you see, try and think about what values the observation is a reflection of. What does this discourse value? How do things like the dress-code, the vocabulary, the expected behavior reflect these values or goals?
You may use a workplace you where you currently or have previously worked or you can use one that you have no part of but may be interested in.