Negotiating context: A multiple case study of professional writing majors in transition from academic to workplace contexts
Daniel Joseph Lupo
- School: Purdue University (0183)
- Degree: Ph.D.
- Date: 1996; pp: 263
- Advisor: Porter, James E.
- Source: DAI-A 57/07, p. 3005, Jan 1997
- Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); Education, Higher (0745); Sociology, Social Structure And Development (0700)
- ProQuest Document Number:
- ISBN: 0-591-03993-1
- UMI Number: AAT 9638201
- Composition researchers and theorists have come to view writing as constrained by context, and research has shown writers as constrained by their perceptions of the context in which they compose, but no research has illuminated well the transition writers new to organizations undergo to learn new contexts. This qualitative study of six professional writing majors in writing internships attempts to characterize interns’ transitions from academic to workplace contexts: how they (1) perceive (learn) the constraints of workplace contexts, and (2) cope with (negotiate) the constraints to write for the organizations. Three categories of transition–low-, middle, and high-level–were detected, determined by how well interns articulated an understanding of the organization’s goals, concerns, voice, and audience. Constraints most affecting transition were determining purpose and audience, reconciling personal and organizational ethos, and representing role. Interns learned constraints by reading organizational documents, interacting with organizational personnel, and interacting with audience members or their surrogates. Interns negotiated constraints by adjusting their role, modifying their task, and shifting their emotional investment in their projects. This study suggests that transition is indeed socially constructed, with the intern and the host organization sharing the responsibility for ensuring a successful transition.