A communion of people who have common underlying assumptions and values and the same course of sharing them are said to be a part of a discourse community. These discourse groups have a common purpose or goal to fulfill and they communicate with each other on a regular basis to achieve the same.
Academic or reading discourse groups are very commonly seen both physically and online on many platforms. On the other hand, there are discourse communities who follow the same celebrities and are a part of the email list of the artist’s fan club, through which they receive all the past and updated information on their favorite star.
Rules of the Discourse Community
Every discourse community is set up with a different purpose on the minds of the members, hence they have their own set of rules that they follow on how and when to communicate in the group. For example a famous singer’s fan club such as Christina Aguilera’s may not accept any criticism shared on the artist by any journal. Also, it is not mandatory that a person is a member of only one discourse group at a time, people communicate in several discourse communities on a daily basis. After deliberating on a topic, the members become the recipients of common information by their fellow group members and provide feedback to each other accordingly.
Features of a Discourse Community
The real aim of a discourse community is to encourage communication within its members towards a common goal. The members are usually at the same level of intellect and expertise on the purpose of the group. Any new idea brought forward by the member of the group will have an effect on the entire community and brings about unfaltering changes.
During the earlier times, the discourse communities were confined to local geographical boundaries. But with the advent of the internet, these groups have members from all over the world, who are unified by one common focus. Some discourse communities start with a biological tie between the members or people who practice the same type of technique or discipline together.
Demographics of a Discourse Community
The members of a discourse community are usually bound by practicing common methods, habits, and ways of thought, their exposed common circumstances and common traditions. If any member is producing any kind of text for the community, it should appeal to the entire community and its beliefs. To become a successful member of a discourse community, one has to fulfill the expectations set within the group and has a thorough understanding of the common goal behind the creation of the community.
Generally members are driven by a personal purpose or decide to get trained together in a discourse community. However, if a member deviates from the common purpose of the group or decides not to follow it any more, he will need to justify his reasons to the community for doing so.
Understanding a Discourse Community
There are several factors that come into play while forming a discourse community, which can be broadly classified under cultural and intellectual. Most of the individuals to get accepted in a discourse community submit their thoughts via textual information. However, it is always prone to changes and the interests of one discourse community may commonly collide with the goals of another.
The basis of a discourse community is the common beliefs of its members, their interactions with each other and eventually the narrative writing that they produce after the discussions on the common subject.
Interpersonal Versus Online Discourse Communities
The levels of expertise of the members may vary in an online discourse community forum. It is difficult to differentiate the novice from an expert, as interpersonal communication is not possible. Also the authenticity of the material produced by a member is also questionable and cannot be verified as his own, since it is submitted online.
The advantage is that an online discourse community is a new learning platform for all its members, as current networked technology is used for communication, which may attract even young users. On the other hand, the members may feel disconnected and there may be a withdrawal of the membership, causing attrition in the group thereof.
A Natural Environment
Normally the members of a discourse community do not label themselves as a group or a collective, they think of it as a platform where they get together to discuss a common purpose. They read each other’s texts and try to derive their own interpretation out of it. All the group members have a common platform on which they share their written texts and the rest of the members have a common access to it. The new technology has in fact made this process even easier, since the discourse community members can easily share their texts and interpretations easily with each other through the internet.