Genre Systems at Work: DSM-IV and Rhetorical Recontextualization in Psychotherapy Paperwork

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In this article, I describe four interrelated analytical concepts useful for studying the discursive practices of professional writers: intertextuality, interdiscursivity, genre systems, and recontextualization. Drawing on structuration theory and neo-Vygotskyan activity theory to provide a framework for the above concepts, I present three theoretical assumptions: (a) genre systems play an intermediate role between institutional structural properties and individual communicative action, (b) a central means for identifying texts in a genre system is their intertextual activity, and (c) the concept of “genre systems” enables the analyst to foreground the discursively salient components of human activity systems. An elaboration of each of these assumptions is followed by an illustration of genre systems at work in one psychotherapist's session notes and the process I call rhetorical recontextualization. © 2001, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

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Written Communication