A genre analysis of the processes of professional document design
AbstractThis thesis offers a range of analytical approaches, all within a generic framework, to spoken professional communication, and specifically to the processes of document design in technical writing and public relations. The data presents the problem of dealing with two very different kinds of interaction; one largely interactive and the other largely monologic. A principal feature of the analysis to be found in this thesis is the use of several interlocking approaches. Part One of the thesis uses discourse analysis linked with topic type analysis, and Part Two uses Rhetorical Structure Theory linked with topic type analysis. Chapters One to Four orient the thesis. Chapter Five deals with presentations. The three different presentation meetings are each shown to consist of the same five topic types. Additionally these topic types are shown to have a regular internal structure in terms of obligatory and optional elements that are realised by discourse analytic moves. Chapter Five looks at data that are of the same social activity and have similar textual characteristics. Chapter Six details generic features of texts that belong to the same social activity, a briefing, but which do not exhibit such close textual similarities. Chapter Seven completes the set of choices by examining texts that enact different social actions, a briefing and a draft review, but which make use of a similar text type, decision making. Part Two of this thesis introduces a new way of analysing the data. This coincides with a shift in emphasis to technical writing and the preponderance of monologic interaction in that data. Chapter Nine provides detailed RST analysis of monologic talk from the four pieces of interaction that are being dealt with; a Briefing and a Draft Review from both a technical writing and a public relations source. The Chapter is evidence of the mechanics of RST and its workability when applied to professional talk. Chapter Ten offers a genre and intertextual study of professional document design texts. It shows how key top level relations such as Solutionhood in Draft Review and Enablement in briefing activity convey similar information about similar kinds of entity. By the end of Chapter Ten three ways of making intertextual comparisons have been made available. Firstly there are differences in the discourse patterning. Secondly there is a change in top level rhetorical structure text organisation. Thirdly there is a change in information constituents as made visible by text type analysis. Part Two of this thesis seeks tý- subsume a clause relational analysis within a broader sequential interactive discourse analysis. This is the opposite route to that taken by Hoey (Hoey 1986). This thesis concludes that the solution to the way these types of analysis should be interwoven will not be a once and for all decision but will depend on the kind of interaction in the text. The thesis argues that a generic framework is very suitable. for understanding professional communication and that a rigid formalistic approach to genre analysis needs to be replaced with a set of more flexible but interlocking analytical techniques.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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