What are Discourse Communities?

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What are discourse communities? In his essay The Concept of Discourse Community, John Swales describes them as groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals. Swales also includes a set of six characteristics that assists the individual in being able to identify a discourse community. Those six characteristics include: common goals, intercommunication between members, provision of information, utilization of genres, specified lexis, and a set system to distinguish new members from old members.

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People can find many examples of discourse communities in their daily lives. For example, a dance team, a football team, students taking an English class, religious groups, and an acapella group can all be considered discourse communities. A discourse community must satisfy the six characteristics in order to be viewed as a discourse community. I have taken a certain interest in a very particular discourse community. This group that I am so fortunate to be a part of is called 901 Ummah. This specific discourse community is important because it revolves around the local Muslim community of Memphis, Tennessee, hence the 901.

The world we live in today is divided. People have different beliefs and understandings of what goes on in our daily lives. One of the most controversial topics would be the religion of Islam. Due to many attempts of terrorism, people began questioning the safety and credibility of the religion. Those same people have the ability to influence others around them, including the very susceptible youth. This is where 901 Ummah comes in. The very purpose of this group was to educate and inform the local Memphians and youth of the true nature of Islam.
To Meet the Needs of a Growing Community (Mission).

That is the the mission statement of the Memphis Islamic Center, also known as M.I.C. M.I.C has served as the basis for the Muslim community and 901 Ummah. Long before 901 Ummah became a non-profit organization, M.I.C was used as the foundation for lectures and activities for the youth. Local Imams, or Islamic scholars, held lectures to remind the youth and their families about what Islam was about and strengthen their faith in the religion. Older college students began activities for the whole community to attract the youth back to M.I.C. Basically before 901 Ummah became a thing, a small part of the community began educating Memphians on what Islam is. This special community grew into the group known as 901 Ummah.

A discourse community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals (Swales 471). In conjunction with M.I.C, 901 Ummah started a revolution in Memphis. The construction for M.I.C began around 2010. The project leaders purchased a plot of land that just so happened to be across the street from a church. An interview was conducted with the church pastor to see how he reacted to this news.

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