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Learning Discourses and the Discourses of Learning

CHAPTER 4

ROLE CONFLATION IN ACADEMIC-PROFESSIONAL WRITING

A CASE STUDY FROM THE DISCIPLINE OF LAW

Research into student academic writing has increasingly paid attention to the link between identity and writing. Students in professional courses of study such as Law often find themselves engaged in writing tasks that require assumption of more than one identity. For example, students may be presented with the facts of a problem situation and then asked to write a letter providing legal advice to one or more persons involved in that situation. Students, however, are aware that while the assignment attempts to simulate a professional task, the assignment is set within the university and that they are writing for their lecturer as well as for the imaginary client. Demonstrating the heteroglossia Bakhtin recognised in all language use, there is a jostling of the student and professional voices, with the positioning of the writer as student bearing on the text in two ways; not only does it find direct representation in the text in its own right, but it is also the condition necessitating the production of the professional voice. This chapter will outline an instance of such identity conflation in a set student assignment. It will comment briefly on judgments made by one student in an extract from his assignment as he decides in what ways and the extent to which the written assignment should reflect different identities. In particular, it will attempt to identify the constraints that seem most compelling for the student as he makes, often unwittingly, his judgments.

INTRODUCTION

In recent years there has been an increasing emphasis in studies of student writing on the relationship between identity and writing (e.g. Ivanic 1997). A major impetus for such an emphasis is the understanding that successful writing does not simply require a student to obtain instrumental mastery over a set of appropriate skills, but that writing is constrained by, and a representation of, social practices. The discourses a writer engages with not only regulate in turn who can write, what sorts of things can be written, and the kinds of positions available to writers within the discourse, but also shape therefore who the writer might be in their texts.

To write in a discourse one must assume the dispositions of that discourse. According to Gee (1996), to participate successfully in a discourse one must become acculturated to the values, beliefs and so on associated with it, and this is often difficult when the new discourse one is acquiring conflicts with the discourses of one’s everyday life (Gee 1996: 134–5). Such acculturation goes beyond obtaining a cognitive appreciation of what is entailed. Following Bourdieu, researchers such as Kamler and MacLean (1997) emphasise and demonstrate the embodied nature of the dispositions that such acculturation entails. According to such a position, the production of suitable texts by students requires more than a cognitive grasp of the writing forms and skills entailed; one’s use of language is an expression of a ‘certain kind of person’ (Gee 1996: 136), and thus successful writing involves shifts in the subjectivity of the person writing.

This interest in identity has led to an ethically aligned mode of critique that seeks to expose the dynamics that privilege certain discourses and speakers and marginalise others. In the context of student writing, this interest has led to studies that seek through such awareness to empower students to make decisions about whether or not to be complicit in the social and power relations set up by the discourses they encounter in their academic study (e.g. the writers in Fairclough 1992b). This approach, however, assumes that students do and will respond to these discourses in predictable ways, and the analysis therefore begins from the presupposition that the students will be positioned by the discourse in quite definitive ways. They do not explore how such positioning is actually taken up.

Ivanic (1997: 23) suggests there are four aspects of identity a student can choose to privilege in their text – the ‘autobiographical self’, the ‘discoursal self’, ‘self as author’ and ‘possibilities for self-hood’. I shall suggest that the enactment of identities is more subtle than choice suggests, that the heteroglossic nature of student texts (Bakhtin’s concept, see Vice 1997) point to identities that are less well-bounded and stable than Ivanic’s formulation suggests is possible in the ‘discoursal construction of identity in academic writing’.

This paper, therefore, is concerned with those processes whereby students do attempt to take up the subject positionings required of them by the discourses they engage with. In particular, it is concerned with this process when several, often conflicting, discourses are making simultaneous demands on them. This is a typical situation for students writing in professionally oriented academic courses, such as law, where an assignment task may require them to write both as a student for their lecturer, to whom they are expected to demonstrate their academic prowess, and as a professional, for instance writing as an expert for an imaginary client. In this paper I will look at the writing of a particular student. I shall begin by describing the assignment task for which the student produced this piece of writing and relevant aspects of the student’s background.

BACKGROUND AND ASSIGNMENT TASK

Undergraduate Law students are presented with a number of tasks in their first year of law study. In addition to the more conventional ‘essay’ type assignment, where they might be asked to engage with policy issues related to specific areas of Law, they might also be asked to produce case notes (of a court case designated by the lecturer), write a letter of advice to a client (based on a hypothetical situation details of which they are provided with), produce a plea in mitigation of penalty (a written form of what is normally presented orally by a lawyer in court on behalf of his/her client) and so on. These tasks not only involve students in producing hybrid texts which draw on a variety of discourse types, from different modes (e.g. speech and writing) and possibly of different semiotic forms (e.g. see Duff, this volume) but also involve students addressing, simultaneously, different addressees (lecturer, imaginary client) and assuming different identities (student; professional expert). The navigation of these multiple discourses and identities requires a decision-making Pardoe refers to as ‘attribution’ (see Pinder, this volume) and a composing of a text that involves multiple processes not always evident in the final text product (see Duff, this volume; Prior 1998). This paper does not explore these processes as such, but rather looks for traces of these processes by examining how the student and professional identities are managed, as evidenced in an extract from the student’s final text, and from discussions with the student.

The student in this instance was asked to produce a letter of advice for an imaginary client. A letter of advice requires a student to address both lecturer and imaginary client, and to assume the identities of student and lawyer. Both these identities have many uncertainties for the student, and conflict with each other in a number of respects, and therefore it is the constitution of and the dynamic between the ‘lawyer subjectivity’ and ‘student subjectivity’ (Kamler and MacLean 1997: 179) that is the concern of this paper.

THE ASSIGNMENT TASK

This assignment was set for a subject in Criminal Law and Procedure, and involved students being exposed to an array of related materials: a video of an interview between the defendant/client and the solicitor (performed by actors), an audio recording of a police interview, and written materials which included an outline of the scenario that led to the client being charged by police, a copy of a police brief which detailed the police case, a financial questionnaire that outlined the client’s financial situation, and a seventeen page ‘student guide’ that provided an outline of the course, the assignment and criteria for marking, and explanatory notes on all stages involved from first interviewing a client to representing him/her in court.

In the legal scenario presented to students, the defendant had acted aggressively towards a man who had taken the parking space the defendant was hoping to occupy. The defendant had approached the man and threatened him, causing the man to lock himself in his car. The defendant then continued to harass the man, beating on his car and making threatening gestures such as holding up his forefinger and aiming at the defendant in the manner of shooting him. This had been observed by two off-duty policemen who came to the man’s aid and after a struggle arrested the defendant. The police subsequently brought three charges against him:

i.   threatening to kill;

ii.  threatening to inflict serious injury; and

iii.  resisting arrest.

In this chapter I shall refer to the first page (see Figure 1) of a letter of advice written by a student who I shall refer to as ‘Benson’. Benson is an international first year student studying straight Law whose first language is Chinese. He completed years 11 and 12 in a private school in Australia before entering into tertiary study. For this task, Benson was asked to write a letter advising the accused about the charges to be laid against him and how he should plead to each. This typical Law School exercise requires students to demonstrate to their lecturer competency in quite specific legal skills and simulates a task common for many practicing lawyers. Benson sought advice from a language and learning adviser about how to proceed with this task, and the sample in Figure 1 is from a second draft Benson produced. The comments made in this paper on Benson’s text are based on analysis of the text, and on notes made of comments made by Benson during the sessions he had with the language adviser.

 

Mr. Jason Bloch
43 Ventnor street,
Fitzroy, Vic. 3119
5th May 2005

Police prosecution

Dear Mr. Bloch.

1. EVIDENCE RELATING TO THE CHARGES AGAINST YOU

Regarding your three criminal charges, the police must prove the following to the court:

  • threats to kill without appropriate excuse

The police will need to prove that you intended to or carelessly caused Mr. van Dreyer to fear that you were going to kill him

Based on the evidence supplied, you were not intending to threaten Mr. van Dreyer of killing, and he also agreed that he was not being threatened to be killed. Therefore it is unlikely that you will be guilty of this offence.

  • Threats to inflict serious injury without appropriate excuse

Although you might not be intending to threaten Mr. van Dreyer of serious injury, it would still be enough if the police can prove that you carelessly caused him to fear of serious injury

Evidence indicates that you admitted of intimidating Mr. van Dreyer and in result he believed that you were going to seriously injure him. The evidence seems unfavourable to you, and unless you have any appropriate excuse for your conduct, such as urgent necessity or self-defence, otherwise you will probably be guilty of carelessly threatened Mr. van Dreyer.

  • Resisting arrest

The police will need to prove that you resisted arrest when they were executing their duties. However, as they were off-duty when arresting you, they were not executing their duties, hence it is unlikely that you will be guilty of this offence.

Even if the police officers were exercising their duties in the arrest, as you honestly believed that they were not police officers until you saw their ID, your genuine mistake is a legitimate defence to this charge.

Figure 1

SUBJECT WRITING POSITIONS OF STUDENTS

The conflation of roles and discourses that student tasks entail creates a ‘hybrid’ discursive space (see Allen 2000: 25). Students write simultaneously as lawyer and student, and to satisfactorily address both client and lecturer the student writer needs to draw on relevant law-specific skills. Consequently, both lawyer and student roles are disciplined in part by the discourses of law. However, the interpersonal relationships for both roles are very different, in some respects contradictory, and this can have implications for choices the writer makes about language and text development.

Swales (1990) argues that ‘the principle criteria feature that turns a collection of communication events into a genre is some shared set of communicative purposes’ (p. 46) but in the case this paper examines there are at least two distinct communities involved (academic, and law professional) with quite different purposes, and the relative weighting given to either one (or others) can vary, having implications at least for the form such a text will take. Anecdotal evidence suggests that lecturers are not always clear about which role to privilege and whether the text should be organised around addressing the client, or around demonstrating the student’s understanding of legal skills to the lecturer. Yet this has considerable implications for the writing of the text. A text primarily addressing the lecturer would explicitly track research carried out, show the skill entailed in that, cite sources in support of the substance or direction of one’s close detailed analyses of cases, provide detailed demonstration of one’s reasoning, and so on, but these would not be made explicit to a client. A text primarily addressing the client would in contrast not display detailed analyses of cases, nor show the exhaustive legal analysis and reasoning that has shaped the advice given to the client. The text written for the client would also avoid legal jargon, and be written in clear ‘layman’s’ English. Thus content, register and text structure would vary according to who is being addressed.

Contradictions also exist in the relationship the writer assumes with respect to legal authority. Both lawyer and student defer to the legal authority of legal texts such as Law Reports and statutes. However, a lawyer is expected to deal with such material in an authoritative manner, whereas the student will typically be far more tentative as s/he defers to the expertise and authority of the lecturer for whom s/he writes. This assumption of or deferral to authority will mark texts differently, for instance in mood at the level of the interpersonal function. Although managing identity and mood variations at different points in the text might seem easily achievable, when both identities converge in the same utterance or word (the heteroglossia Bakhtin speaks of – see Vice 1997) in a contradictory way, the student writer is faced with a dilemma, as we shall see.

To conclude this section, I shall present a brief outline of positions often entailed by the identities students bring to the writing task. This is an intuitive list but I think it fairly represents some of the positions these identities involve, even though they vary in intensity and extent from context to context and person to person. It needs to be pointed out that student responses to positioning by discourses, and the way they take up and enact such positions, will depend upon their understanding of the discourses and of what those positions (such as student or lawyer) entail, and the resources they have available to enact the position. If the identities of ‘lawyer’ and of ‘student’ are formed in an ongoing process, it is plausible that students, still at the stage of trying to understand and assume such identities, will draw on discourses they have engaged with in the past, or from everyday life, to facilitate this process. Thus the way a student performs respective roles and enacts these identities will vary, and each one may well bear the traces of collusions and collisions with others. Students therefore are engaged in the kind of judgments Moore and Hough (this volume) suggest are crucial to the application of ‘disciplinary knowledge to a new and possibly unfamiliar context’, judgments that involve a ‘practical understanding [phronesis]’ which they argue involves more than simply the mastery of relevant disciplinary skills, an understanding that they further argue, following Taylor, ‘should be the principal concern of a higher education’.

Positions entailed in the ‘student’ and ‘lawyer’ identities include the following: As students:

  • Recognition that they are writing primarily for their lecturer
  • Deferral to the authority of the institution and in particular its representative for them, the lecturer who sets and marks their assignment
  • Deferral to the legal authority of texts such as statutes, court reports, legally binding resolutions and other texts that constitute the law as such
  • A deferral to and reliance on the interpretations of legal matters found in secondary sources, and a general unwillingness to challenge such interpretations

As lawyer:

  • Recognition they are writing primarily for a client
  • Assumption of an expert and authoritative position towards the client for whom one is writing
  • Acknowledgement of and respect for the legal authority/force that certain documents possess, such as statutes, court reports, legally binding Resolutions, and so on
  • Respect for the legal interpretations and commentary offered by secondary sources but a willingness to question such interpretations where called for

I shall now present a fairly brief commentary on the first page of the letter of advice written by Benson, before proceeding to a more general discussion of issues raised.

STUDENT TEXT

A preliminary point that needs to be made is that in tasks such as this one the client presented is a rather attenuated entity. Only facts relevant for the purposes of the task are usually presented, and as such only a very partial sense of the client as a person is presented. In professional life, the interview with the client during which the client’s account of the facts is established, police interviews at which the lawyer is present, and other biographical information that becomes known will inevitably broaden and deepen a sense of who the client is and who the lawyer is addressing. Because the context of writing provides only an attenuated sense of who one is addressing, one can suppose that the sense of the relationship with the client will be similarly diminished, which will impact on the interpersonal and rhetorical functions enacted in the letter of advice and which are central to generic structure (see Threadgold 1997: 96). Indications of such impacts can be found in Benson’s text.

Immediately noticeable on the first page (extract Figure 1) is the absence of any introductory or explanatory paragraph typical of a letter. Benson opens immediately with the heading:

Evidence relating to the charges against you

and then continues:

regarding your three criminal charges...

Benson’s reason for omitting such a paragraph was that the client would know why he was writing. Students frequently state, when explaining why they do not provide full details in assignments, that ‘the lecturer knows this and I feel it is insulting to tell them something they so clearly know’. Yet conventions in business letter writing (and this student admitted knowledge of such conventions) involve an opening paragraph stating the purpose or subject matter of the letter. In the example in Figure 1, something like the following would typically open such a letter:

Dear Jason,

Subsequent to my discussion with you on (such and such a date) I am writing to inform you of the nature of the charges being brought against you and to provide advice on how you might plead.

It would seem that in this case neither the weight of convention in letter writing nor the need for the common gambit of establishing a new or a previously existing link with one’s interlocutor before moving onto substantive issues is felt by Benson in this context, and this could be because the sense of the client who he is writing for is weak. Moore and Hough (this volume), point out that ‘the lack of exigency in the classroom stimulation’ can mean the choices a student needs to make ‘will seem less compelling’. Benson’s reason for beginning his letter in this way does not suggest a cultural explanation, but rather points to a practice (not necessarily a good one) associated with writing for a lecturer. If this is what is at stake, the student appears at this point to be engaging with this task primarily as a student, rather than an advising lawyer. The move made at this point of the text appears to be dominated not by the interpersonal relationship with the client but by the institutional demand placed on the student and this positioning has led to change in at least one move typical of such a text.

A further interesting aspect of this student’s letter of advice concerns the three criminal charges outlined. It is generally accepted that when providing advice to a client, one does not instruct the client what to do, but one outlines ‘issues of evidence that must be proved by the police, including an analysis of the elements of the relevant offences and the evidence required to prove each element’ (quoted from the instructions given to students for this task) and provides advice on the basis of that analysis. That is, the client him/herself is provided with sufficient information to understand what is at stake, and consequently to make, with advice from the lawyer, an informed decision about whether, for example, a plea of ‘not guilty’ to a charge is likely to succeed.

However, if we look at Benson’s discussion of what the police must prove for the charges to stick, his account of whether they could succeed or not seems rather sketchy and as such inadequate. For example, in his discussion of the ‘resisting arrest’ charge, no explanation is given as to why the jury/judge would believe the client’s account of events rather than that of the police, or of what circumstantial evidence might incline the jury to believe Jason against the police officers, or why, for example, under rules of evidence the police would be unable to adequately justify their claim, and why therefore Jason should be able to confidently plead ‘not guilty’ to that charge. These are reasons both the client needs to know to make an informed decision, and also reasons the lecturer wants the student to demonstrate an understanding of. In this instance then, there is a coincidence between the demands placed on the student as student, and as lawyer, yet this student fails on both counts. Why might this be?

The reason Benson gave was that he wanted to ‘keep things simple’. The instruction ‘to keep things simple’ is commonly given to students, partly in line with the ‘plain English’ movement that urges legal documents be written in English more accessible to the lay reader, but more importantly to guard students against transferring legalese into communication with their clients who have no legal training. Benson has followed that instruction but provided an everyday ‘lifeworld’ (Fairclough 1992a) interpretation of ‘keep it simple’, rather than a law ‘disciplined’ interpretation that would have included, in ‘simple English’, an explanation of the kinds of things that the instruction sheet informed students were necessary.

One way of explaining the direction Benson followed here is that Benson occupies the ‘lawyer subject positioning’ in that he attempts to do what he understands a lawyer does (keep it simple) but does not enact the ‘lawyer subjectivity’ (Kamler and MacLean 1997) that such a position normally entails. We have as it were a projection of lawyer subjectivity from the position of student but with the everyday lifeworld being drawn on to give substance to that projected subjectivity. In this we see a jostling between student, lawyer and everyday identities and associated voices (Bakhtin, see Vice 1997) as the student engages with his situation to produce a particular textual feature that can be described therefore as heteroglossic.

Lea and Street (1998) have argued that literacy problems evident in tertiary student writing arise not because students have a deficiency in literacy per se, but because the forms of literacy particular to disciplines and their discourses are unfamiliar to them. Proficiency in a specific academic literacy requires that students have an understanding of the disciplinary contexts and practices that give meaning to such terms as ‘keep it simple’. However, I suggest that in Benson’s case there is more at stake than lack of such understanding. The student had in this case been provided with an explanation of what was required and in other tasks had demonstrated considerable legal skills. It doesn’t seem to be his lack of understanding of relevant disciplinary practices that dominates here. The ‘keep it simple’ is an imperative imposed by an authority (lecturer, institution) to be submitted to (as student) and this positioning as (a non-authoritative) student dominates over the nascent lawyer subjectivity to which, when fully developed, the incorporated legally disciplined interpretation would be second nature.

It seems reasonable therefore to distinguish between lawyer subjectivity and student subjectivity, and this is a distinction made by Kamler and MacLean (1997: 179) in their study of the development of legal ‘habitus’ by first year students. Following Bourdieu (1990), they argue that discursive practices ‘are accomplished not only through language, but also through bodies, through ways of moving, dressing and talking, and through ingrained bodily dispositions or habitus’ (Kamler and MacLean 1997: 178). The lawyer subjectivity is therefore a function not only of cognitive understanding, but primarily of a way of being and of practices, from which forms of cognition follow. However, I am suggesting here that the discourse produced, and the subject producing it, is hybrid and heteroglossic (see Allen 2000: 25, on Bakhtin’s understanding of these concepts). While I would concur with Kamler and MacLean that the development of such skills and understanding involve the development of relevant practices, and of the subjectivity (e.g. lawyer subjectivity) that enacts such practices, the jostling between the different identities and voices at play, and the relative force they have on the enacting subject also needs to be accounted for as s/he produces discourse. Appeal to ‘lawyer subjectivity’ alone does not explain the relative force exerted by the various discourses that bear on the moment of discourse enactment and the hybrid nature of the discourse resulting from that.

There is one further observation to make concerning this text. Benson states categorically with respect to the charge of ‘threats to kill without appropriate excuse’ that ‘Based on the evidence supplied, you were not intending to threaten Mr. van Dreyer of killing, and he also agreed that he was not being threatened to be killed’. Benson thus asserts that the evidence the police would need to draw upon to support this charge simply does not exist, creating the logical implication that he could not be found guilty of such a charge. He does not suggest other possible grounds on which this charge could be made. However, he then adds that ‘Therefore it is unlikely that you will be (found) guilty of this offence’. This ‘unlikely’ is rather interesting after Benson has stated quite forcefully that according to the evidence no such threat was made. Several explanations for the choice of this word are possible. First, Benson may have felt uneasy as a student about assuming the authority to make a categorical prediction about a court decision, even though inferential logic would support such a prediction being made. Secondly, it may be that he felt (although not in a way he could have articulated clearly) caught between the force of logic that would have led him to be categorical and a feature typical of legal discourse, that it speaks in terms of likelihood and probability or possibility, and with good reason.

Phrases qualifying the degree of likelihood are common because on matters such as interpretation of legal documents or principle, or on matters concerning admissibility of evidence, or the force of specific circumstantial evidence and so on, defence and prosecution will often take up and argue contrasting points of view, and the judge is required to rule on how to proceed in light of such arguments. As such, a lawyer is unable often, on such matters, to anticipate with certainty how they will be decided, although s/he is, of course, expected to indicate in which direction s/he thinks things will go, in light of his/her expert reading. However, where the facts are established and agreed on, what logically follows from such facts can be stated with confidence.

The reasons for Benson’s uncertainty are not evident. I suspect Benson is imitating the kind of qualification typically found in legal discussion, but has failed to understand the reasons for it and therefore where it is called for, and where not. Through imitation he attempts to project himself into the position of being a lawyer and assume ‘lawyer subjectivity’. But imitation fails because the perception of what is to be imitated is not disciplined by the discourses of law. This raises questions about the extent to which imitation can be a means of discourse acquisition because one must already be disciplined by the discourse to apprehend what is to be imitated. This of course would make the need for imitation redundant. We do, nevertheless, see here I believe an instance of a student who feels compelled as a student to attempt to engage with the disciplinary discourses, but unable as yet as a disciplined subject to respond to the positions the discipline typically constructs for subjects engaging with it. This engagement therefore is sustained and consequently shaped in important ways by the institutional discourses, and not by legal discourses alone.

DISCUSSION

A question that so far I have not addressed is whether the example I have presented of a first year international student from a non-English speaking background, as he struggles with the discourses of Law with which he is presented and must engage, provides any general insight into the production of legal discourse by all students as they become more law-literate. I referred earlier to a dilemma the student faced when deferral to (institutional-lecturer) authority and assertion of (lawyer-professional) authority coalesce in the one utterance. I have suggested that to the extent multiple discourses are present in the production of any text, these sorts of dilemmas are likely to be present, and there is little reason to suppose discourse is ever free of such inter-discursive processes. Ivanic (1997: 49) suggests academic writing is inherently intertextual, although this does not prevent her from arguing that a singular discoursal identity can be produced in academic writing through choices individuals make. In contrast, I would suggest that not only the text, but the subject also is positioned by interdiscursive dynamics (see Fairclough 1992a: 104 for a distinction between intertextuality and interdiscursivity), and this reduces for students the availability of the kind of choice Ivanic advocates, and also shapes the variations on a generic theme that emerge. By emphasising the significance of the relative force discourses have, and not simply their presence on any given occasion, I have also emphasised the hybrid nature of the enacting subject and the discourse produced. Thus genre too under these circumstances is better viewed not as product, but as process (Threadgold 1997: 97).

I suggested above that Benson’s use of ‘unlikely’ may have arisen from an attempt to imitate something he had noticed in legal discourse. Bourdieu argues that habitus and the practical and embodied dispositions that regulate the production of discourse are not formed through imitation, but through a practical mimesis (see Butler 1999: 116). Butler points out that imitation requires an already formed subject that is capable of perceiving the object or action to be imitated. That is, we could add, the subject perceiving must already be ‘disciplined’ so that it ‘sees’ in an appropriate (discipline specific) way. Benson shows how undisciplined imitation can be. In contrast, mimetic identification forms the subject. However, if this is so, then the subject being formed, I have suggested, is never a purely legal one (a ‘lawyer subjectivity’), for other discourses such as the institutional one which compels the student as student to engage with the discourses presented to him is indispensably present, and thus what is acquired, and the subject formed, are hybrid. The habitus formed at law school is not the habitus constraining professional activity, even though relevant skills are developed. Once again, I am suggesting that it is the relative force discursive elements have at any given moment that is most significant in shaping discursive product, and it is this force that constrains the judgments made by a subject, rather than the autonomous choice Ivanic (1997) suggests informed awareness makes possible, or the disciplining imposed by acquired habits and practices that strictly correlate to, and automatically dominate in, particular contexts.

CONCLUSION

I have suggested that the texts students produce are hybrid and heteroglossic and I have attempted to show some of the ways in which this is so. I have suggested that on occasions the convergence between different voices is unproblematic; on other occasions incompatibility or contradiction may exist, and on such occasions judgments must be made. However, I have also suggested that such judgments may be unwitting, and one way of accounting for them is to appeal to habitus, where judgments are consequent upon embodied dispositions. As such, Kamler and MacLean argue, acquiring a discourse is a matter of acquiring relevant dispositions. However, I have also suggested this too is not sufficient to account for what goes on, since such habitus presupposes a relatively stable discourse and context to which it belongs, but I have argued these are rather more dynamic than such a view supposes. An alternative way of understanding the dynamic that operates and positions subjects is in terms of the relative force of discourses, not solely their substance.

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Pinder, J. 2007. ‘Eliciting professional discourse in assignments’. In Learning Discourses and the Discourses of Learning, edited by Marriot, H; Moore, T; Spence-Brown, R. Melbourne: Monash University e-press. pp. 3.1–3.12.

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Cite this chapter as: Price, S. 2007. ‘Role conflation in academic-professional writing: A case study from the discipline of Law’. In Learning Discourses and the Discourses of Learning, edited by Marriott, H; Moore, T; Spence-Brown, R. Melbourne: Monash University ePress. pp. 4.1 to 4.11.

© Copyright 2007 Steve Price
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Learning Discourses and the Discourses of Learning

   by Helen Marriott, Tim Moore and Robyn Spence-Brown