Genre and genre change: A critical realist view
[in special issue: Genre Studies]
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 5, .
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In order to generate communicative competencies in foreign languages, teachers have to offer a range of opportunities for their students to communicate and interact with a variety of authentic material. These texts can serve as models of real world language use and as a window to the social norms and conventions of other speech and discourse communities.
The crucial interrelationship between text and context is best captured by the concept genre which emphasizes the nature of language as a form of social action. While a genre-based pedagogy is hence promising for a communicative approach to foreign language teaching, several theoretical questions emerge such as, for instance, the question whether genre is a normative or a descriptive category, whether and how genres change etc.
This article analyzes the nature of genres in relation to other elements of the social in order to answer to the questions whether pure genres exist and if and when they become hybrid. By drawing upon Critical Realism, a social philosophical perspective that offers an account for the relation between structure and agency, I will argue that the extent of genre durability depends largely on the socio-political context which in turn cautions us to take an overtly prescriptive stance towards the teaching of genres
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