Janet Holmes and Meredith Marra (2004) attempted to investigate the specifics of relation practice in their article “Relational practice in the workplace: Women’s talk or gendered discourse?” published in Language in Society. The authors have managed to create a well-structured and informative article by choosing an appropriate approach to presenting the information and supporting each of the claims with much evidence.
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The main aim of the article stated by the authors is to discover diverse ways of manifestations of relational practice at a workplace and focus on its specific instances to illustrate how it is discounted in New Zealand workplaces. The analysis provided by the authors is aimed at extending Fletcher’s research and support the researcher’s statement about the importance of relational practice, which is publicly ignored with relevant evidence.
To achieve their goal, the authors have created a well-developed structure of the article. This structure helps the reader to understand the specifics of the main topic fully and explore the main claims presented by the authors and supported by evidence. The first part of the article is devoted to defining relational practice. The second one helps to explore the manifestations of relational practice at a workplace. The third part is dedicated to discovering the relation between the investigated phenomenon and gender and workplace culture.
The authors define relational practice by exploring its three main components: orientation to facing the needs of others, serving to advance the primary objectives of the workplace, and being regarded as dispensable or peripheral (Holmes & Marra, 2004). Such approach to defining the phenomenon helps to inform the reader about all important aspects of the concept and present the information in a logic and well-structured way.
The authors analyze each of the components in details and help the reader to understand how they influence the role of relation practice and the way it is perceived by the workers. Such analysis helps to distinguish relation practice from other “superficially similar types of workplace talk” (Holmes & Marra, 2004, p. 379). Besides, the authors explore four categories of relation practice identified by Fletcher.
These categories include preserving and mutual empowerment, which are oriented to organizational goals, and self-achieving and creating a team, which are oriented to interpersonal goals (Holmes & Marra, 2004). The authors analyze each of the categories to illustrate the functions of relation practice.
The second part of the article is devoted to manifestations of relation practice, including creating team, small talk and social talk, positive humor, off-record approval, damage control, covert facilitation, and mitigating humor. The authors explicitly explain the importance of each of the manifestations and the way they affect the workplace environment and work productivity.
The authors use the data from Wellington Language in the Workplace (LWP) Project that was designed to analyze features of effective interpersonal communication in New Zealand workplaces (Holmes & Marra, 2004). Such data give the authors an opportunity to use the records of workplace interactions to provide real examples and evidence to their statements.
The analysis presented by the authors help the reader to recognize the demonstrations of relation practice that are met in everyday life but often remained unrecognized. Such information helps to understand why most of such manifestations remain discounted though largely influencing the people’s overall job satisfaction and helping to overcome difficult situations.
The third part of the article is devoted to considering the extent to which relation practice can be regarded as a women’s work. The authors claim that relation practice should not be regarded as the prerogative of women. They intentionally avoid indicating the gender of participants in the examples they use throughout the text to demonstrate that men are greatly involved in relation practice.
The authors explain why relation practice is mostly associated with women and what have led to is feminized discourse. Holmes and Marra (2004) conclude that the investigated phenomenon is complex and essential for understanding the specifics of functioning of workplaces and suggest that further research is needed.
The intended audience of the article includes both specialists involved in language studies and common people interested in the specifics of workplace communication. The authors manage to reach the intended audience by including both theoretical and practical background to each of the statements to make the information comprehensible to both categories of the readers.
The authors’ goal to make the article persuasive and informative is reached by presenting the arguments in each part in the context of the real situations. The attempt to analyze all of the main existing issues related to the topic of the article contributes to its comprehensiveness.
The innovation made by the authors of the article is their attempt to systematize the knowledge about relation practice based on both theoretical conceptions and data collected from real workplaces in New Zealand. Such approach enables them to extend the existing knowledge about the phenomenon.
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The authors of the article have chosen an appropriate structure to present the information about the investigated phenomenon in a clear and logic way. The abundance of relevant evidence and proper explanations makes the article informative and valuable for all people interested in exploring the specifics of relation practice.
Holmes, J., & Marra, M. (2004). Relational practice in the workplace: Women’s talk or gendered discourse? Language in Society, 33, 377-398.