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Discourse, Identities and Roles in Specialized Communication

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Edited By Giuliana Elena Garzone and James Archibald

The studies presented in this volume focus on two distinct but related areas of specialized communication professional and academic settings, resting on an anti-essentialist notion of identity as a phenomenon that emerges from the dialectic between individual and society.
The authors start from a detailed analysis of discourse practices as evidenced in texts, their production and the professional performance patterns which underlie such practices, and explore the way the actors, roles and identities are constructed in language and discourse. In particular, by highlighting discursive attitudes and aptitudes, they underscore the need to understand discourse in light of norms of professional responsibility, showing that not only do professionals and academics use discourse to create self-identity, but they also use identity constructed through discourse to influence society.

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CINZIA SPINZI / ELIANA TERMINIELLO “It’s up to all of us”: Social Identity in the Language of Public Warnings 109

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CINZIA SPINZI / ELIANA TERMINIELLO1 “It’s up to all of us”: Social Identity in the Language of Public Warnings 1. Introduction Recent studies from anthropology and social constructionism (Berger/ Luckman 1966) have shown how identity is not a stable but an “ever- changing” (Androutsopoulos/Georgakopoulou 2003: 1) “extremely complex construct” and that social identity is enacted in discourse (De Fina 2003: 15). A similar instability characterizes the boundaries and laws that identify the concept of nationhood in which people are engaged by taking on “typical behaviour patterns” (Bloor/Bloor 2007: 86) which are ethically and socially determined. In the context of this study, public warnings and notices represent a type of genre where “membershipping strategies” are very important and where consensus is expressed between “governors and governed as regards the very social norms and values they convey” (Riley 2007: 118-119). Public notices are defined here as announcements from any branch of government or public services, which perform several functions such as informing, alerting and inviting people to participate in the democratic process of the community. The research question in this chapter concerns the identification of the strategies of social identity construction in the field of public communication via images and writing. Basically, what we argue here is that, despite the apparent straightforwardness, these texts imply more than they explicitly say. Moreover, these implied meanings work 1 The authors have conceived the article together. More specifically Cinzia Spinzi is responsible for sections 1; 2; 4; and sub-section 4.3; Eliana Terminiello for section 3...

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