Britt-Louise Gunnarsson Uppsala University (Sweden)
Career stories on multinational companies’ websites. The construction of an attractive workplace culture on the internet
In today’s technologically advanced society, where companies rely on the internet for their externally and internally addressed information, texts on websites and other social media have come to be essential for the construction of a positive and attractive company image. It is by means of texts that the organization disseminates a picture of its history, its visions for the future, and its current goals, policies and ideas. It is also by means of web texts that the company describes and promotes their available jobs.
In my lecture, I will discuss multinational companies’ construction of an attractive workplace culture on the internet. I will analyse staff policy documents and career stories which were published on the websites of nine multinational companies. One goal is to explore the relationships between these texts, another goal to analyse how they balance between various concerns, values and interests; between economic concerns and social values, and between individual-centered and group-centered interests.
Individual employees are presented in the career stories, and the narratives include a description of how they have made a career, what their job is like and how they perceive of the company in question as an employer. Using a methodological framework which combines text linguistics – ‘macro structure’, ‘foregrounding’ and ‘salience’ (Gunnarsson 2009) – with narratology – ‘voice’ (Mishler 1987) and ‘model reader’ (Bakhtin 1986, Eco 1984, Nord 2011), I will focus on story structure, foregrounded content and voice and salient elements.
I will also discuss my results in relation to a model for the contextual construction of professional discourse. In this model with a theoretical basis in sociology, sociolinguistics and organizational theory, context is understood and analysed at various levels: at a macro level as dependent on various societal framework systems, at a meso level as situated within the studied multinational company, and at a micro level as related to the analysed text with its specific goal and intended readers (Gunnarsson 2009, 2014).
Bakhtin, Mikhail M. 1986. “The problem of speech genres.” In Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, 60-102. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Eco, Umberto. 1984. The role of the reader. Explorations in the semiotics of text. Bloomington Indiana University.
Gunnarsson, Britt-Louise. 2009. Professional Discourse. London and New York: Continuum.
Gunnarsson, Britt-Louise. 2014. Business discourse in the globalized economy: The construction of an attractive workplace culture on the Internet. In: Discourse in Context, edited by John Flowerdew, 91-112. London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury.
Mishler, Elliot G. 1987.”The interactional construction of narratives in medical and life-history interviews. In The Construction of Professional Discourse, edited by Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, Per Linell, and Bengt Nordberg, 223-244. London and New York: Longman.
Nord, Andreas. 2011. “The reflective cultivator? Model readers in eighteenth century Swedish garden literature.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 279-301. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter Mouton.
Britt-Louise Gunnarsson is Professor Emeritus at Uppsala University, Sweden. Her major fields of interest are sociolinguistics, text linguistics, discourse analysis, professional discourse, comprehensibility, and language and gender. She has initiated and led several large research projects related to these fields. Her recent publications include the books Professional Discourse (2009) and Languages of Science in the Eighteenth Century (2011), and chapters in Contemporary Applied Linguistics (2009), Language and the Market (2010), Handbook of Pragmatics Highlights 9 (2011), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (2012), Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2013), Discourse Studies Reader (2013), Multilingua.(2014), and Discourse in Context (2014).
Ken Hyland The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Narrative, identity and academic storytelling
Although my own research is essentially centred on academic discourse analysis in the framework of EAP, this conference’s call for papers offers a sufficiently broad definition of narrative to allow me to adapt it to my interests. Seeing narrative as a sequence of connected events, I understand it here as the stories we tell about ourselves in our professional academic lives and the genres which most explicitly allow us to do this.
Academics and students alike often feel uncomfortably positioned by the traditional constraints of academic conventions, believing they must project a formal and coldly analytical persona in their academic writings. In this paper I focus on how we academics do construct alternative identity narratives of professional self-representation by exploring three rather neglected academic genres where the requirements of anonymity and impersonality are more relaxed, i.e., thesis acknowledgements, bio statements and personal webpages. In contrast to the knowledge constructing genres of the academy, these genres seem to offer opportunities for academics to construct more personal identities and gain some control over how they would like to be perceived by others. The question arises, however, of how they use the opportunities these story-telling genres offer.
Ken Hyland is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the Centre for Applied English Studies at the University of Hong Kong. He was previously a professor at the University of London and has taught in Africa, Asia and Europe. His most recent books include a third edition of Teaching and Researching Writing (Routledge, 2016), The Routledge Handbook of EAP (co-edited with Philip Shaw, Routledge, 2016), Academic Publishing (Oxford University Press, 2015), Academic Written English (Shanghai Foreign Language Press, 2014), Disciplinary Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and Innovation and Change in Language Education (edited with Lillian Wong, Routledge, 2013.). He is founding co-editor of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes and was co-editor of Applied Linguistics. Ken is an Honorary professor at Warwick University and a Foundation Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities.
Michel Petit Université de Bordeaux (France)
Revisiting ‘specializedness’ in and through fiction
Whilst fiction cannot reasonably be claimed to be the primary object of LSP studies, there is certainly no doubt among the members of this conference that fiction can be relevant to ‘the discipline of languages and cultures for specialised purposes’ (as the call for papers puts it).
Fiction can first of all be shown to be relevant in so far as it contains narrative matter that, being ‘in relation to specialised language, discourse and culture’, can be used as an auxiliary resource in LSP teaching; and LSP teachers well know that it is generally possible to identify in most types of fiction at least some elements of more or less specialized matter that offer some appropriate pedagogic potential. Assuming that there is some consensus about what constitutes specialized matter, this raises the more general question of the existence of degrees of specializedness and how to account for them.
Fiction can also be shown to be relevant in so far as it is ‘related to professional communities and specialized groups’ and can thus be used as an accessory to the investigation of specialized fields or domains. This however concerns mostly certain types of fiction exhibiting, like FASP novels or assimilated TV series, both a high level of specialized matter in one domain and a special ‘genetic’ relation to the specialized community of that domain —which is what the eponymous notion of professional substratum was meant to convey in the case of FASP. There remains to account for the specializedness of other types of fiction, for example where the genetic relation is to a disciplinary domain like history or where the dominant substantial relation is to more than one specialized domain.
The overall argument will be that, whatever the extent of its more or less strongly motivated relevance, fiction may not only be systematically examined in the light of its relation to specializedness but also, because of the nature of its relation to what is specialized IRL (in real life), be used as a means to gain some more fundamental insight into the nature of specializedness itself.
Michel Petit, alumnus of the prestigious École Normale Supérieure, is today Professor Emeritus in English Studies at the University of Bordeaux (France). The greater part of his teaching career has centred on teaching linguistics and English for Specialised Purposes at different Higher Education institutions in France, in particular at the University of Bordeaux where he was also Head of the English Department and the Language Centre, as well as of the university’s research centre and doctoral school. Other responsibilities included being a member of the national Agency for the Evaluation of University Research and Teaching (AERES), President of GERAS, the French national association for teachers and researchers in ESP (2001-2007,) and editor of its bi-annual journal, ASp.
His research work initially centred on the linguistics of scientific discourse and led to a doctoral thesis on the language and discourse of mathematics. Since then, his research interests have extended to epistemological and theoretical questions raised by the definition of a French approach to anglais de spécialité and the construction of its object of study and research in terms of a holistic language-discourse-culture triptych. It is in pursuance of these objectives that he published a seminal article in 1999 entitled “La fiction à substrat professionnel: une autre voie d’accès à l’anglais de spécialité”, which introduced a new genre of fiction, la fiction à substrat professionnel or FASP and established its relevance to ESP studies. More recently, he has been involved in outlining a theory relative to the definition of specialised domains within the context of English studies.