What is Discourse Community?

What is Discourse Community?

As in life, groups gather into communities for discussions and analysis in applied linguistics. A type of grouping that is widely used to report written communication is “Discourse Community.” John Swales, an influential analyst of written communication, described these communities as groups that have a purpose or idea, and use communication to get to those goals.

4 types of discourse communities are

  1. Argument
  2. Narration
  3. Description
  4. Exposition


James Poter also defined it as a temporary constraining system, represented by the practices of texts, unified by the same focus. Moreover, a discourse community is a textual system having some stated and unstated conventions, a vital history, institutional hierarchies, bestowed interest, and so on. An Individual joins the community through proper training or by the personal urge to have different languages, so the primary language of a discourse community is described as registers or data type. The most important factor is the “map” of the discourse community that entails goals, vocabulary, and genres. Still, these do not remain fixed as with upcoming interests and participants, and they keep on modifying.

According to John Swales, an educator, and researcher, the discourse community can be defined into six segments:

  • It has a broadly agreed set of similar public goals.
  • It comprises mechanisms of intercommunication among its members.
  • It uses a participatory mechanism primarily to provide information and feedback.
  • It tends to utilize and possess one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims.
  • Along with owning genres, a discourse community has acquired some specific lexis.
  • It has an entry-level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discourse expertise. [3]


Traditionally, the focus of discourse communities used to be interpersonal communication at the workplace. However, the trend shifted in recent years to web-based discourse communities. While getting into the study of discourse community one must questions,

what exactly constitutes a discourse community?

What idea, concept or factors unite the particular group and people?


Your Research Topic

The convolution of any research topic requires an intimate aspect of the individual and writing produced since being a part of such a social group.  Principally, there is no existence of a discourse community without interaction between individuals and the literature they produce, and the opinions regarding other members of the community.  Often, members do not classify themselves as a “discourse community.” Rather, they take it involving themselves in something that is of their sheer interest, where others also have the common interest.

Lester Faigley, examining the topic of discourse communities and their writing from a social theoretical perspective, argues that an author is shaped by the social and interactive norms around him. His text is bound up within those social contexts. Text is not detached to document solely, somewhat representative of the principles and delicate rhetorical shades of the environment in which it has formed.


While considering individuals a vital part of discourse communities. It is not limited to the involvement of people from distinct linguistic and cultural backgrounds as they begin to adapt to the standards of that discourse community. However, based on the pursuit of a common goal, involvement in one discourse community does not hinder participation in other groups. Cultural differences can inhibit the anticipated flexibility of learning in communities of practice. Cultural barriers can be overcome by creating an online community. Some people tend to perform better using technology.  Besides, the students, in many cases, tend to perform better in online discourse communities than in a classroom environment.

With the above description, it is clear that our place of employment, our class, friends group, and all groups to which we belong are discourse communities. And their success only depends on online communication, interpersonal communication, or a blend of both.

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