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Discourse Community
RWS 1301
Instructor: Ruby Pappoe

By Edward Cardenas and Nolan Herbort

What do you think a discourse community is? According to John Swales, a discourse
community is a group that shares the same beliefs or goals. This group will attempt anything in
order to accomplish their goal and become better as a community. Without a strong and well
balanced team, you will almost never have a successful discourse community. Every single
member has to be dedicated to the community and has to have a desire to become better as a unit.
A perfect example of a discourse community would be a football team. But how is something
like a football team considered a discourse community? Let us explain.
I am pretty sure you have watched at least one football game in your life. Even if you do
not like the game you cannot deny its prevalence in our culture. Even though the sport is mostly
confined to the United States its popularity has grown exponentially throughout the years. The
Super Bowl has been viewed by millions of people, and the amount that watch each year has
steadily increased, even to other countries. All thirty-two teams have one common goal, winning
The Super Bowl. The atmosphere of football is an extraordinary one. Let us talk about how
football shows off a great community atmosphere.


As a community its goals are very clear to everyone playing the game and to most outside
observers. Their main goal is to advance their position in every play, score as many points as
possible, and prevent your opponent from getting points in order to win the game. This goal is
present for every single player and coach as the game progresses. Everyone on the team
contributes whatever they can to maximize their chances of winning the game. This is a prime
example of how a discourse community puts all its energy into completing one goal.
As with most discourse communities football players have a special language that only
team members understand. They can call out a play by a code names and you will never know
what exactly it means. They also have special terminology for these plays that is constant among
teams and coaches. Quarterbacks can change calls from their previous call by just calling a secret
code out to his players. These different forms of communication between group members is very
important and helps point out how different vocabulary is used in different groups.
To communicate the specific tasks each person on the team has there are meetings set up
to help communicate the roles of each player when and where they are on the field. They have
schedules and important dates on calendars, each player should be aware of these important dates
that have been set by other people. Each player has a specific role on the team, and if they dont
know what to do it could hamper the ability of the team to complete their goal. It is important for
the coaches to give the correct information to their players otherwise it will have a negative
result for the team. Providing correct information is an essential part of a discourse community,
and without proper communication, the community would have no idea what to do.
The process in which the communication between the members in the group occurs is
also very important to the community. Having decisions passed down from the owners to the
coaches to the players is the main way that information flows. Even though this is the main way

information flows the players can communicate with the coaches in a direct way and the owners
through more formal means, like during formal meetings. The team members also have different
levels of communication among themselves. At all times on the field there is someone calling out
plays to the rest of the team, and other players pointing out small details to give that person more
information to work with. Other discourse communities have varying levels of
intercommunication, but no matter how much they have it is very important for it to be
Football has a very specific way communicating its ideas to the players. Instead of just
normal text a football team creates codes for what they are trying to communicate. The
information is first shown to each played un-coded in the form of simple diagrams. Once the
team has learned the un-coded knowledge thoroughly the team codes this information so that the
other teams cant understand what they are doing. They also have special meeting every week
where they review films of the game and talk about what happened. This is a rare type of
communication between communities, but many other discourse communities have their own
special genres of communication among themselves.
For a football team to have a very low number of experienced people in the community
could easily spell disaster for the team, while if there are a large number of experienced players
on the team they might falter in a couple of years. This balance needs to be carefully watched by
the people who have the most control over it, the owners. When this balance is not kept right the
whole community of the team will suffer. When there is a balance the more experienced players
will be able teach the new players the basics while the newer players will be able to come up
with new ideas and strategies for the game. When this works out the team functions as a better
group and community. The same is true for all other discourse communities, when the balance of

experienced and unexperienced members if off the community does not function as well as it

Discourse communities come in many shapes and sizes, but they all share very similar
outlines to each other. With each community sharing a set of six characteristics it is easy to spot a
discourse community in almost everything you do. The teamwork required of a football team and
all the dedication and communication between members make it a perfect example of a discourse
community. With its broad appeal to observers it can be made into an example that even people
who have not played the sport can use to learn about discourse communities.

Swales, J. (1990). The concept of discourse community. In
E. Wardle & D. Downs (Eds.), Writing about writing: A

college reader (p. 212-227). Boston, MA: Bedford/St.