Friday, February 27, 2009


Doheny - Faria
To investigate the relationship between social(non academic)context, writing, and community formation
Research Questions:
1. In a given non academic setting how are writer's conceptions of rhetorical
situation formulated over time?
2. How do writers [erceptions of their social and organizational contexts influence
the formulation of these conceptions of rhetorical situations?
3. What are the social elements of writer's composing processes?
4. How do writers' perceptions of their organizational contexts influence these
5. How do writing processes shape the organizational structure of an emerging

Subjects Selection:
Microware Inc founded in January 1982. Chosen b/c this corporate community was still in development meaning that writing procedures were not fixed as you might find in established long standing companies. (focus was on 5 top executives mainly and the writing on the creation of the business plan document)

Data Collection:
Obervation 5 days a week over eight months. In increments of 1 - 8 hrs.
Information collected during formal and informal staff mtgs., hall ways, and open areas.
Data Collected:
1. Field notes - obesrvation / theoretical, methodological
2. Tape recorded mtgs
3. interveiws - open ended - history of company
40 interviews - discourse - comparing drafts of busines plan

Data Analysis:
Data review chronologically
Categorized / coded
based on theoretical framework (i.e. ethos) and particulars of behaviour surrounding the creating of the document specific to this ethnographic research(i.e. content related revisions and stylistic choices) The categories were tied to the major theme (influence of context of rhetorical process) and sub theme (community building and the rhetorical process)
Findings placed in contrast with earlier studies in order to expand on them.

Potential problems: Implications for teaching is premature - more evidence is needed
for such assertions. This point is acknowledged in a round about way in the conclusion section whic states its limits of generalizability. In addition, there is a problem with subject under study in that it was business that was atypical in that it was facing potential bankrupcy

Looking at the socialization process of becoming productive member in a specified discourse community.
Research Questions:
1) What differentiated simpler from more complex and higher status writing tasks?
2) What determines writers' social roles in this particular community of proactice
3) What methods of socialization were used for writers new to this organization and to what effect.

These questions feed into broader questions of social issues in the writing environment that effect learning socially defined roles and the impact of those roles on learning.

Subject Selection:
Chosen from larger ethnographic study about writing in nonprofit organization. Subject names : Pam and Ursula frin Job Resource Center. Good writers / newcomers / greatest change to writing duties/roles during the year of the ethnographic study.

Data collected: 1 yr duration
weekly audiotaped conversations (interviews - w/ subjects and with executive directors/experienced writers inside and outside JRC), photocopies of writing they produced weekly - drafts and revisions / observation / field notes /
interviews - open ended and discourse based -composing process/textual decisions/ rhetorical awareness

Data Analysis:
Categorized- via pattern identification / triangulation - 1) different data sources with one another 2) comparing different responses over time from informants 3) soliciting informant's response to drafts of the research report.
Findings were appropriately limited to study as there was a total population of 4 which made generalizability not possible.

Findings are : text heirarchies / knowledge play into social role acclimation and advancement.
Apprentice advancement application to university based writing practices should be explored as well as businesses made aware that acclimation of writers into the writing community of the organization is a long standing process and not a one day seminar.

Strong argument due to extensive triangulation with other studies and theories.

Standardization practices within writing reveal instabilities in writing and also points to how such practices support "taste" and in doing so power heirarchies

Subject Selection:
90 seventh graders at Sander's Middle School (SMS)working on "the building project". From economically challenged families and half of whom did not do well in school or on tests. Focused primarily on groups within which were the four students she had good rapport with.

Data collected:
Extrapolated from larger 8 mth project. The building project has a duration of 2 mths.
Data: audiotapes classroom and group discussions (transcripted), videos, student writing, field notes, texts students drew from to create their speech, community surveys, interviews

Data analysis:
first level - Speech and writing coded/charted across trajectory of: production/consumption/distrubution
Second Level - Examined forces the shaped composition (353) The identifying of Unifying and Stratifying forces - Questions used: what were the standardizing forces at work in students' writing? What were the forces that stratified?

Findings: unifying forces: explicit teaching and genre memory. Students appropriation of essay form - played up emotional appeal; covered up contradictions/conflict(362) by emphasizing "we" and downplaying contradicting info; intertextual/interdiscursive alliances - students dismissal and use of information available to them - dependent on strategy used by instructor to present to them and personal choice.
No generalizability - and within study there was a limitation to how the conclusions could be applied given that the writing/speeches dealt with came about under varying processes(367)

Problem: Environment under investigation was not natural in that it stemmed from the researcher's own suggestion.

Ellis descriptive - evocative/emotional autoethnography
Retelling of her experience during 9/11 and its immediate aftermath so as to encourage others to tell their stories in order to find personal and collective meaning in the aforementioned events.
Self and peripherally - her family members with whom she interacted during 9/11 and its immediate aftermath

Data: recollection of events

Data Analysis:
Bateson's framing and Goffman's frame analysis.(395)Calls for one to look closesly at the elements that create a scene with emphasis on the meaning one ascribes to each element.

Ellis' retelling and analysis (framing) of own experience exemplifies what she hopes others will do so that an individual and collective meaning of the 9/11 events can occur. generalization limited to subject of study

Anderson Decriptive -analytic autoethnography

research/purpose: to clarify the potential and promise of analytic autoethnographic research (rooted in symbolic interactionism) as a legitimate qualitative research tool by laying out its 5 key features (descriptive).

realist autoethnography texts, history of ethnography via - studies and theoretical scholarship based on practices with regards to autoethnography, sociology, and emperical research.
Data analysis:
realist autoethnographic texts evaluated in terms of features they best exemplify out of the 5 key features of analytic autoethnography practices. In addition analytic autoethnography practices and benefits are evaluated through triangulation with practices refered to under data.

Findings: Analytic autoethnography - requires community immersement in a way that can monopolize time and possibly sacrficice field note taking(389)however it allows for the searching out of relationships b/n different social and personal variables which can contribute, in a more weighted way than evocative autoethnography, to qualitative research pursuits.


  1. I'm revisiting my blog to see if my attitude has changed with regards to any of them. After reading comments by curtis, anthony, wendy, and john I have to wonder what my own opinion is of the varying types of ethnographic studies in terms of their truth value and contribution to the field of interest of the researcher. All in all I can understand why there is a tension between those in the composition scene who hold that qualitative studies should hold as much weight as quantitative and those who believe that quantitative measures should dominate.
    In the case of ethnographic studies, the clarity of knowledge contribution value is ambiguous. therein lies the problem - much more work is called for on the part of those who wish to bolster or affirm the findings that are presented in the works. Ethnographic studies in this way asks more of the audience than quantitative in that it must be followed up through further studies and interrogated rigorously. The strength of the study is its alignment with other studies in the field. together they stand alone one will fall. Given this, I can understand now what bruce horner's stance is in his text "terms of work for composition" when he talks of the exchange value of certain types of work in legitimating classroom practices. It seems to me that ethnographic research has the lowest exchange value of all the qualitative methods of research in that it requires ALOT of time and effort and yet establishes little in the way of what we acknowledge as knowledge.

  2. Nicole--I think that we're about to see attitudes toward autoethnography expand as a result of the Internet and as more and more people engage in research into online communities. Autoethnography is becoming more compelling for folks wishing to pursue these lines of research because it offers opportunities difficult to replicate with case studies, surveys, correlational studies, etc.