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Discourse, Identities and Roles in Specialized Communication

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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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BETTINAMOTTURA Chinese Civil Servants and the Creation of a Discourse Community to Promote Social Change 191

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BETTINA MOTTURA Chinese Civil Servants and the Creation of a Discourse Community to Promote Social Change 1. Introduction Recent studies of contemporary Chinese society show that research in the social sciences is undergoing a number of unprecedented changes.1 The growing complexity which is seen as characterising Chinese society seems to result, on the one hand, from an increasing diversification of social strata in China, mainly due to the ongoing economic reforms, and, on the other, from the application of new methods in social analysis (Lu 2004; Shen/Wan 2005). In this field of research, most authors agree in emphasising the relevance of the development of new professional identities for the changes observed in society. In this chapter we shall take into consideration civil servants as an example of emerging professional identity. The improvement of professionalism amidst civil servants is significant both in respect of the transformation of the role of the public administration in the country and on account of the insights it offers into the State’s ability to manage the social transformation itself. Moreover, the efficiency of the State’s capacity to cope with change is likely to strengthen the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party to continue ruling the country (Brødsgaard 2004). The birth of a new social identity for civil servants is therefore likely to be of major interest for the Chinese leadership. 1 In China the social sciences have been neglected for years, as they were considered ‘bourgeois knowledge’, in favour of a strict application of the...

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