When learning about a discourse community, I found out that it is a group of people who share the same values and goals. They have their way of communicating about these goals. The reason this is important is because, without communication, these communities would not be able to relay information to each other. This would lead to them not being able to convey the knowledge that is needed to fulfill their purpose as a group. An example of a discourse community would be the Black Lives Matter organization. I will be using John Swales’six criteria to show that this organization is indeed a “discourse community” (Swales 215-227).
Goals & Purpose:
John Swales, an American linguist, has provided six criteria for a community to be considered a discourse community. One of the criteria is that the community must have an established goal and purpose.In regards to the Black Lives Matter community it has a firm set of goals and purposes establishes, these have firmly been established as the heart of the movement. Black Lives Matter is an international activist movement that originates in the African-American communities. The movement was founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi.
The organization was founded on the 13th of July in 2013, after George Zimmeran killed an innocent black teen Trayvon Martin. Zimmeran was arrested and tried for the death of black teen Trayvon Martin, but was found not guilty. This trial was crucially pivotal for the organization because they whole-heartedly believe for Zimmeran to be guilty. Therefore, when he was acquitted, they genuinely believed that in that moment Trayvon’s “black life” didn’t matter. It was believed that he did not receive the justice that he deserved. The goals of the organization are to raise awareness of the violence that is being brought down on the black community by police offices and regular civilians.
A discourse community has to have a way for the members to connect and talk to each other. The communication process for this paper involved an interview that I conducted with Charlene Jameson, one of the members of the Black Lives Matter movement.Through the interview I conducted with one of the members, named Charlene Jameson. I was able to get information on how the community communicates with each other. The primary platform they use for communication is social media. Jameson states that social media is the best platform to use for several reasons. One of the reasons she states is because it helps them to reach a wider audience, which could sometimes help high-profile celebrities to endorse them, such as Beyonce. Another way they communicate is through protesting on the streets and having rallies. Jameson mentions that these protests and rallies are always peaceful and non-violent. She states that the reason that they gather for these peaceful rallies and protests is to reach out to the black community. They feel that this the black community to feel safe and to know that their voices are being heard.
Genre of Communication:
The second interview I conducted was with Jade Wadley. She also stated the importance of social media. In the interview she indicated that social media serves as a source of live material, and information. They mainly use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Through the interview, I also learned that the social media that they prefer to use is Twitter.Wadley explained that social media assists the organization to bring people together and correlate their movements in real time. In addition, it gives the opportunity to push back fake news with a click of a button. Through the interview, Wadley explained the negative effects that social media has in the community. This may include harassment and being trolled by people online. She divulged that there were numerous times when she or somebody else in the organization were cyberbullied, but it does not discourage them to give up.
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Participatory Mechanisms/ Threshold level of members:
Most organizations typically have an official website that is used to spread to the world what kind of material and valuable information they can offer. This helps to inform individual on what they can expect from the organization. It also helps the organization members to receive feedback. In the Black Lives Matter organization there are twenty-six chapters across the United States and Canada. This could lead to difficulties in communicating with each one all at once. There, members are allowed to see upcoming events in each the other states. Everyone has access to tool kits to assist them in solving problems not only within the chapter but also to contact other chapters. It is believed that by allowing chapters to contact each other makes a significant difference because it allows them to give and receive feedback on effective strategies. This, in turn, gets information out the local community instantly.
A threshold or levels of membership are required in order to be considered a discourse community. Through the website, new members who genuinely want to join can do so on the website. Although the organization has many chapters, each of them are told to operate without any type of hierarchy. The members of these chapters do not have the authority to decide who can and cannot join the organization.The founders believe that this movement should be an open community due to the fact that a new member may have a positive impact on the group