Professional Discourse as Social Practice

  • Silvia Blanca Irimiea


Professional discourse (PD) has come under close scrutiny for the last two-to-three decades. The discipline termed ’professional discourse’ developed side by side with the related fields of organizational discourse, workplace discourse, institutional discourse, and more recently, corporate discourse, all related to or rather subservient to specific forms of communication. From the earliest studies and continuing today, communication-related studies have been interdisciplinary, drawing on sociology, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, and any discipline that could shed light on human behaviour in particular settings. It is the purpose of the present article to show the link between professional discourse and social practice and to link it to sociological theories. The study goes out from a presentation of PD (Gunnarson 1997), the differences between the terms ‘institutional discourse’ and ’professional discourse’ as proposed by Sarangi and Roberts (1999: 15-19), Koester’s definition of ’institutional discourse’, Gotti’s notion of ’specialist discourse’, Drew and Heritage’s (1992:3) notion of ’institutional talk’. The characteristics of PD are viewed in terms of the functions it may perfom and draw on Chiappini and Nickerson (1999), Linell (1998), Mertz (2007), and Kong (2014). Social practice and social practice theory, on the other hand, build on the tenets of Bourdieu (1989), Giddens (1984), Schatzki (2002), Reckwitz (2002), Jackson (2005) and Holtz (2014). While discourse, in general, has been viewed from the social structuration perspective by SFL and CDA scholars, the PD relationship to social practice followed the social constructionist appfoach. PD is explicated through the role discourse plays in professional socialization and identity creation (Kong 2014, Smith 2005). Other notions, such as Wenger’s (1998) ’community of practice’, ’shared repertoire’ are discussed in relation to the use of PD as well. Finally, possible directions for further research inquiry are put forward.
Oct 6, 2017
How to Cite
IRIMIEA, Silvia Blanca. Professional Discourse as Social Practice. European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 1, p. 108-119, oct. 2017. ISSN 2411-4138. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 23 nov. 2017. doi: