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Corpus-based empirical approach to professionalism: Identifying interactional roles and dispositions in professional codes of ethics

Issue: Vol 14 No. 1 (2017)

Journal: Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/jalpp.39771


Although research on professional competence has has adopted a number of approaches
that have highlighted the importance of practice and values in enacting a professional
identity, there is currently no established framework for empirical investigations. Based
on a discourse analytic framework, this paper demonstrates how ethical codes in a
number of consulting professions (law, accountancy and engineering/surveying) can
be analyzed empirically by focusing on the collocation patterns found in the genre.
The analysis will focus on how professionals are expected to behave in relation to two
identity components in their ideal conducts of behavior: identity roles (or identity
shifts) and identity virtues (positive attributes associated with a particular role). The
engineering profession is found to have a fairly even representation of most of the identity
roles identified: provider to client, unspecified/general, professional peer, employer
and professional association. The legal profession places greater emphasis on the roles of
provider to client and professional peer, whereas accountancy professionals tend to represent
their identity roles more generally, although the role of provider to client remains
an important category. With regard to identity virtues, i.e., the ideal dispositions or
values displayed, all three professions highlight the primacy of professional standards or
competence, with integrity and responsibility also emphasized by some.

Author: Kenneth Kong, Phoenix Lam, Winnie Cheng

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