Discursive structure as a genre-marking quality of online discourses

30 May 2024
Room G1

Discursive structure as a genre-marking quality of online discourses

In a social cognitive approach, genres are perceived as discursive schemas and usage-based discursive categories activated both during discourse production and processing. In this view, genre knowledge is based on the fact that each time people engage in discourses, they perform social actions in order to adaptively satisfy their communicative purposes and needs (cf. Verschueren & Brisard, 2009; Steen, 2011; Giltrow, 2013). Moreover, these social actions form types in accordance with the typical co-occurrences of typical discourse situations involving typical roles, typical themes and typical communicative goals targeted by discourse participants (cf. Bakhtin, 1986). These typical co-occurrences serve as ground for the functioning of genre knowledge and result in typical patterns of construal.

The talk presents an empirical study revealing the role of discursive structure in the creation of the genre-specific character of online discourses. By discursive structural units, I mean discourse segments (usually bigger than one sentence but smaller than the entire discourse) used by the speaker to accomplish a communicative strategy aimed at achieving a more specific communicative purpose. For the empirical study, I compiled a research corpus of 50 online food recipes and 50 online book reviews in Hungarian. Regarding both genres, 25 texts were written by laypersons while 25 by professionals. On this material, I made a corpus-based qualitative analysis in MAXQDA software. After carefully developing a data-driven annotation system on a smaller pilot material, I systematically identified the communicative strategical units of the recipes and book reviews of the corpus [cf. Swales’s (1990) move structure analysis]. The research’s findings are the followings: (i) Discursive structure formed by the speaker’s communicative strategies is a genre-marking quality of online discourses under study. (ii) Recipes written by laypersons and professionals do not have a different discursive structure. (iii) Book reviews written by lay readers differ significantly from those written by professional critiques in terms of discursive structure.



Bakhtin, M. (1986). The problem of speech genres. In Speech genres and other late essays (pp. 60-102). University of Texas Press.

Giltrow, J. (2013). Genre and computer-mediated communication. In Pragmatics of computer-mediated communication (pp. 717-737). Mouton de Gruyter.

Steen, G. (2011). Genre between the humanities and sciences. In Bi-directionality in the cognitive sciences (pp. 21-42). John Benjamins.

Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge University Press.

Verschueren, J., Brisard, F. (2009). Adaptability. In Key notions for pragmatics. Handbook of pragmatics highlights 1. (pp. 28-47). John Benjamins.