Nilam Ashra

Inside stories: Understanding the daily lives of communication practitioners through discourse

This research takes a discourse centred approach in an effort to move beyond normative debates on practitioner roles theory, excellence theory, integration and organisational communication. The central thesis contends that whilst an analysis of the roles, activities and strategic value of communication is important, normative research into the role of the practitioner has so far has failed to acknowledge the importance of “real world” experiences encountered and interpreted by individual communication practitioners. This research is therefore about understanding the representations of the “real world” experience that constitute the working lives of communication practitioners beyond that of the “labelled role.”

A total of 17 communication practitioners, each from one of three organisations, took part in the research. The research uses personal (online) diaries, a method which favours the recording and analysis of practitioners’ interpretations and reactions to the events they commonly experience. Follow-up interviews are also used to gain an understanding about the nature of their working lives and to illicit additional information about the events narrated in their diaries.

The findings show that there are a number of “discrete discourses” employed by practitioners in their natural work setting, which help them make sense of the events they experience. In particular, they employ a number of “verbal repertoires” within a discourse of “legitimisation.”

The research is funded through a CASE studentship with ESRC and CIPR.

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