A discourse community entails a group of individuals who are involved in or communicate about a given issue, topic, or field. In such a community, one gets to socialize and know each other, where they express the knowledge about why they are passionate about the given topic and why they are particular members of such a community. The discourse community is a relevant part of human social structures, which stems from either conscious or subconscious means. Often, members of a discourse community are in pursuit of paths in life, which lead them to be part of groups that share the same path or goals. The discourse community members share values, goals and use certain vocabularies which can only be understood by members of this group.
An example of a discourse community is a football fan group, whose main aim is to support a particular team or a player of a given team. Tompa Bay Buccaneers is an example of a discourse community, where the group entails members who are dedicated to Tom Brady a football player. The fans regard the players highly and constantly discuss, argue, and share their opinions and views about the player’s performance, life, impact, and any other issues related to the players. The fans have a Facebook group that has over 56,000 members, who constantly hold discussions, make fun of each other, share memes, and constantly remind each other why Tom Brady is the greatest of all times in his specialty. A direct post made to the fan page of Tom Brady includes one by Garrison Lee, who is a super fan, who asks, “Can someone please explain to me how Tom Brady didn’t win MVP?” This is a direct post aimed at ensuring that the discourse community discusses the players and why he was not appreciated as much as the group appreciates him. This is a clear example of a discourse community which is a representation of people who share goals and passions in life, and who have decided to join a special media group, where they share common knowledge and issue the same rhetoric in their communication of ideas within the specialized topic of football. In most cases, persons in the discourse community such as the Tom Brandy’s fan page, share similarities in terms of ideologies, perceptions, and reasons behind them liking one player over the others. They may argue and disagree on issues, but at the end of the day do it for the support of the one person or ideology they support. A discourse community does not have members who necessarily know each other personally, but just persons who share a thing in common, and can agree on certain ideologies and values just like in the case of Tompa Bay Buccaneers, who only share the group on Facebook. Persons can be members of a similar discourse community knowingly or unknowingly. A discourse community makes a person unique and has his/her ways of thinking or doing things.
From the direct post made on the Facebook post of the discourse community group, “Donald offside on the last play of the game. #FakeChamps”, there are multiple comments on the comment section, which is one of the many ways of engaging through the Facebook platform. One of the comments made by Anthony Brown reads, “There were a lot of missed calls but it still wasn’t too bad of a game. Bengals lost it because they made way too many mistakes. Rams we’re more patient”. This is a comment on a post, which is an indication of engagement between group members, who are interested in the information on the post and seek to have an engagement on the subject matter. From the comment on the direct post, it is manifest that all members have opinions about issues raised regarding the sportsman they support, hence the urge to reply to the main post. This shows their level of commitment to the group and will have a response if necessary. They hence are in line with Swales’ “The Concept of Discourse Community” (Swales 466), who argues that in each discpours4e community there is a sociolinguistic concept of speech, which allows for building upon the foundations. Many of the members of the group may also be from diverse communities, countries, and varying diversities, but are brought together by a common thing, which makes them feel the urge to make responses to main posts and show solidarity with the sportsman and the sport they support.
From the Tompa Bay Buccaneers group, it is manifest that one needs not only to communicate with one person but rather with any of the members present. This can be seen from the reply to the comments of a post. When a member of the group by the name of Greg Fuller posts about the complaints about high ticket pricing, another member of the group responds by saying “50,000 for front seats?” another member replies to the comment by saying “can you say the second mortgage?”. This shows the high levels of interactions between the group members, who are engaging each other within the group. This is hence a clear example of a discourse community, given that persons can reply, complement or even call out each other within the group, as a way of keeping the group bound together. Arguing, challenging each other, and disagreeing respectfully is a common way for members of a discourse community to communicate as seen on the replies and the comments on the Tompa Bay Buccaneers group.
There are various ways and mechanisms in which discourse community members inter-communicate as seen in the Tompa Bay Buccaneers group. The intercommunication can be through interacting on social media, through the use of texts, or even using phone calls and videos. Other groups can have physical meetings if they live near each other. Each discourse community uses divergent participatory mechanisms, as long as there is the sharing of information and feedback. For Tompa Bay Buccaneers group’s case, the participation is through the use of Facebook, where the posts and comments and interactions amongst members. Other methods of communication would be through the use of blogs and online videos, as long as members have some form of communication and interactions and share a thing in common. Others may include writings such as Newsletters and FAQs webpages, which can aid in sharing of information amongst community members. Any discourse community also possesses and utilizes one or more genres of communicative furtherance. Genres may include sharing photos, videos, and any form of text which will help in continuing interactions. Each discourse community can use a different type of genre depending on the likes and nature of the group members, and could also be influenced by the ideologies, and beliefs of the team members. In addition to genres, a discourse community has particular lexis. This entails a specific Jargon, which is unique to a community, which aids in smoothening the intercommunication process. Artists, for example, may have specific terminologies used to explain the techniques, tools, and mediums when communicating. For the Tompa Bay Buccaneers group, there is also the use of a particular genre that is associated with American Football, which they use, where nonmembers may be unable to understand what exactly it means. As much as members may join a discourse community, however, there may be a threshold level of members’ need for each group depending on the type of group it is. For the Tompa Bay Buccaneers group, there can be as many members as possible, given that it is an open group, which entails fans of a player. Leaving such a group is also voluntary and easy, due to the nature of the group. However, some of the groups may be hard to either join or leave, given the nature of their groups. A soccer team for example can’t survive without eleven members but has a limited number of people it can take in.
A discourse community involves members who share values, goals and use certain vocabularies which can only be understood by members of this group. Many discourse communities often have a similar path, which can be defined by a career, love for sports, or experts in a certain field. Each community also has varying mechanisms of intercommunicating, based on what the interests are. Each individual is in a discourse community knowingly or unknowingly, given that people share a lot in common, and often get themselves interacting with others based on the interests or things they share in common.
Swales, John. “The concept of discourse community.” Wardle and Downs (2014): 466-479.