Settings, speech genres, and the institutional organization of practices

Carol A Berkenkotter, Amanda Haertling Thein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The authors of this essay are concerned with examining speech genres in the context of institutional settings. Studies of setting have importance for understanding the ways in which students' use of speech genres is intertwined with social practices, tool-use, and institutional objectives. After introducing the theoretical assumptions informing the studies described in the article, the authors illustrate institutional social interactions which reveal how children's and adolescents' bodies and linguistic practices are organized through time and space. In the first of these settings, children in a Montessori preschool "learn how to mean" in the context of tools and artifacts, genres, and contextual cues. In the second setting, a high school in a large Midwestern city, the researcher examines how students constitute themselves as insiders or outsiders in such settings as the English classroom, the school gymnasium (where special events are held), and the cafeteria. It is in such social spaces that students' language and behavior both generates and instantiates the dominant group's social structure. We argue that the organization of bodies/practices in each of these two settings - the preschool and the high school - tacitly accomplishes social and ideological agendas through students' seemingly "everyday" activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-142
Number of pages28
JournalFolia Linguistica
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 2005


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