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A Tenorless Genre? Forensic Generic Profiling of Workers’ Compensation Dispute Resolution Discourse

Issue: Vol 2 No. 2 (2006)

Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v2i2.205


This paper turns genre modelling to the task of exploring critical variation between instances of an emerging genre – the workers’ compensation teleconference. It attempts to tease out the role that such variation plays in the success of that genre in terms of the social process that it was designed to realize, noting however that ‘success’ must be viewed from multiple perspectives. We describe and illustrate a Hasanian GSP approach to genre description, based on collaborative research we undertook with the NSW Workers Compensation Commission (WCC) in Australia. The method proved useful for identifying what kinds of discourse strategies contribute to the successful resolution of disputes at teleconference, and we present preliminary findings which suggest an association between resolution and what we have called the ‘Orient to Process’ phase in the generic structure of these teleconferences, using a semantic network to display the crucial variation within this phase. We also address some pragmatic consequences of training arbitrators to use ‘successful’ discourse strategies in relation to issues of equity for the worker, and some theoretical consequences of adjusting the GSP framework for research on professional discourses.

Author: Alison Moore, Kathryn Tuckwell

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