Reflections on this week’s readings for 8011

Thralls and Blyler

Thralls, C., & Blyler, N. R. (1993). The Social Perspective and Professional Communication. In C. Thralls & N. Blyler (Eds.), Professional Communication: The Social Perspective (pp. 3-34). Newbury Park, C.A.: Sage Publications, Inc.

Describes three strands of social theory in professional communication research:

Social constructionist: “the social constructionist approach focuses on community, viewing communal entities as the sources of knowledge maintained by consensual agreement; as the respositories of discourse conventions by which communities are defined and shaped; and as the bodies to which nonmembers must—through collaboration—be acculturated.” (p. 131)

Ideologic: “ideologic crictics have differed significantly with the social constructionist understanding of community, knowledge and consensus, conventions, and collaboration by pointing to the tendency of communities to reproduce their ideologies and thus to suppress difference and by examining the pedagogic implications of and alternatives to existing structures of authority.” (p. 135)

Paralogic Hermeneutic:  “paralogic hermeneutics represents a major departure from the social constructionist and ideologic theorists on such fundamental issues as the nature of both interpretation and communication.” (p. 14)

My thoughts/questions:

The paralogic hermeneutic approach appears to struggle with the notion of generalization. But at some level human interactions can be generalized – language use shows patterns across discourse communities. Why can’t we generalize about techniques that work.

Authors say that paralogic hermeneutic and ideologic face research challenges because researchers’ interests may be contradictory to their subjects in a “commodity” economy. This was written in 1993; how has that panned out?

Gurak & Lay

Introduction. Gurak, L. J., & Lay, M. M. (Eds.). (2002). Research in Technical Communication: Ablex Publishing.

No observations here.


Rude, C. D. (2009). Mapping the Research Questions in Technical Communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 23(2), 174 -215. doi:10.1177/1050651908329562

Rude’s purpose: to propose a “central research question” and “four areas of related questions.” (p. 175)

Her question: “How do texts (print, digital, multimedia; visual, verbal) and related communication practices mediate knowledge, values, and action in a variety of social and professional contexts?” (p. 176) She explains components more fully. (pp. 181-82)

My question: This extends “technical communication” to the far reaches of rhetoric and communication, doesn’t it?

Her method is to view books about tech comm and identify statements about research questions and purposes. (p. 180)

She gives examples of the books she viewed and where they fit on her map of four areas of questions: disciplinarity, pedagogy, social change, and practice. (p. 183)

My question: I note that our PhD reading list contains items only from Rude’s disciplinarity list. Is there a reason for that?

Rude offers questions and identifies research methods for each of the four areas.

She says: “Journalism sends information to a broad public. Readers are not necessarily expected to do anything with the information. By contrast, technical communication targets specific users, who are always as unique as the circumstances that require a text.” (p. 207)

My question: Doesn’t this mischaracterize by journalism and TC?

Marshall & Rossman

Chapters 3 & 4. Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2010). Designing Qualitative Research (Fifth Edition.). Sage Publications, Inc.

Made more notes in these chapters about the process of designing a research proposal.

1 thought on “Reflections on this week’s readings for 8011”

  1. Gurak and Lay intro. Note p. 1: “What the field has in common, however, is an interest in the relationship between applied areas — in particular, science and technologies–and the ways in which language is used to convey, construct, and communicate these areas.”

    Defining scope of research interests…

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