Swales (1990) found that a discourse community
has a broadly agreed set of common public goals
has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members
uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback
utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative utterance of its aims
has acquired some specific lexis (specialized terminology, acronyms)
has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and
"Communities of practice", "Speech community", "epistemic community"; "intellectual community" and "thought collective" may be considered near synonymous concepts.
"Thought collective" was a term introduced by Ludwig Fleck,
by many seen as a forerunner of
Thomas Kuhn. Fleck's theory is interesting from an information science point
of view because he considered the role of different
kinds of documents as well as the
interaction between the scientific community and the broader society.
Fleck, L. (1935/1979). Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Originally published in German in 1935).
Smith, M. & Kollock, P. (Eds). (1998). Communities in Cyberspace. London: Routledge.
Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis. English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
See also: Communities of practice; Domain; Disciplinarity/Interdisciplinarity
Last edited: 17-06-2006