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A multi-perspective analysis of the request e-mail discourse of a team of education professionals in Hong Kong

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posted on 2022-03-28, 21:55 authored by Chung Kwong Victor Ho
A multi-perspective analysis of the request e-mail discourse of a team of education professionals in Hong Kong. -- This thesis analyses the discourse of the request e-mails exchanged among a group of professional teachers of English in a Hong Kong public education institution. As its analytical framework, the study draws on the 'multi-perspectived approach' to analysing professional discourse proposed by Candlin (1997: xiv) and outlined by Bhatia (2004). The request e-mails, categorized basically as downward (from leaders to subordinates), lateral (among subordinates), and upward (from subordinates to leaders), are analysed by treating the discourse as text, genre, professional practice, and social practice. Seeing the discourse as text, the study examines the lexico-grammatical features of the clauses of the e-mails by drawing upon systemic functional grammar (Halliday 1994, Halliday and Matthiessen 2004). It also discusses the use of intertextuality (Fairclough 1992, Candlin and Maley 1997) in the production of the request e-mail discourse. Seeing the discourse as genre and professional practice, the study discusses the rhetorical move structure of the request e-mails in relation to the necessity for the inclusion and exclusion of moves, and the sequence of appearance of these moves in the professional context of the community of practice (Lave and Wenger 1991, Wenger 1998) of which the teachers are members. Another focus in this part of the thesis is interdiscursivity (Candlin and Maley 1997). This discusses how the author's knowledge of genres and discourses contributes to the production of the request e-mail discourse. The use of deductive and inductive rhetorical approaches to topic introduction is also explored in relation to the order of discourse (Fairclough 1992, Foucault 1974) of the community of practice and the institution to which the community of practice belongs as a whole. Seeing the discourse as social practice, the study discusses the personal identities (Tracy 2002, Simon 2004) constructed by the e-mail authors through their request e-mail discourse by means of analysing lexico-grammatical resources such as process types and modality, influence strategies (Yukl 2006), rapport management (Spencer-Oatey 2000, 2005), relational work (Locher and Watts 2005, Watts 2003), and politeness (Brown and Levinson 1987, Gu 1990, Scollon and Scollon 2001). It is observed that the personal identities constructed through the request e-mail discourse, the lexico-grammatical features of the clauses, the rhetorical move structures of the request e-mails, the rhetorical approaches to topic introduction, and the use of intertextuality and interdiscursivity differ among authors and/or recipients of different status (leader/peer/subordinate) and different cultural background (Chinese members and non-Chinese members). The study offers explanations regarding the effect of status on the request e-mail discourse construction. The cultural background of the authors and/or recipients, however, will be argued to have only affected the authors' choice of Participant terms in the clauses and the construction of identities by the NCM subordinates but not the other aspects of the request e-mail discourse.


Table of Contents

Part 1: Thesis introduction -- 1. Introduction -- Part 2: Identity construction -- 2. Identity construction by leaders -- 3. Identity construction by peers -- 4. Identity construction by subordinates -- Part 3: The generic structure of the request e-mail -- 5. Generic structure of downward request e-mails -- 6. Generic structure of lateral request e-mails -- 7. Generic structure of upward request e-mails -- Part 4: Intertextuality and interdiscursivity -- 8. Intertextuality -- 9. Interdiscursivity -- Part 5: Thesis conclusion -- 10. Conclusion.


Bibliography: p. 285-299

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Dept. of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Dept. of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Christopher Candlin

Additional Supervisor 1

Peter Roger


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Hong Kong (China)


299 p. ill

Former Identifiers

mq:20076 1558682