As mentioned earlier, it is not by looking at laws, regulations, or manuals of
procedure that RGS scholars find out what genres are enacted by a specific
community. Instead, they apply a bottom-up approach, and while doing so, they
often stumble upon "unofficial" work practices or "workarounds" (Spinuzzi, 2003,
p. 23). The latter may offer a more comprehensive, colourful, and truthful view of
organizational activity than that inscribed in the "official" records. Bakhtin
suggested that the continuous emergence of slightly or profoundly transformed
genres is the result of the friction between centripetal and centrifugal forces that is
inevitable and ongoing in any organization. At the same time, as Paré (2002, p. 60)
put it, "genres are socio-rhetorical habits or rituals that 'work,' that get something
done," and therefore tend to be produced and reproduced as long as the rhetorical
situations remain unchanged. The continuous enactment of the same genres over
time helps stabilize those situations, although both the genres and the situations are
always "stabilized-for-now or stabilized-enough" (Schryer, 1994, p. 89).
Devitt (1991) identifies a second kind of intertextuality within the tax accountants'
texts, which she calls "referential intertextuality," (p. 342) and which has to do with
the subject matter of those texts, that is, other texts. Referring to other texts within
one's own text is typical of most text-based professions (besides accountants,
lawyers, academics, and theologians come to mind), where other texts are explicitly
cited, implicitly referred to, or incorporated, as the basis of a writer's authority and
Finally, the relationship between each accountant's text and those produced
previously and subsequently for the same client - a relationship that Devitt (p. 350)
labels "functional intertextuality" - is that which contributes to build a "macrotext:
the macrotext of that client" (p. 351). Included in this macrotext are the written
and oral texts that the community under examination does not produce but receives
from the outside. Rather than a genre set, we are now dealing with a "genre system,"
which Bazerman (1994, p. 97) describes as "interrelated genres that interact with
each other in specific settings." Although the purpose, form, and provenance of the
genres participating in a genre system may vary, Bazerman adds, "[o]nly a limited
range of genres may appropriately follow upon another in particular settings"
(p. 98). In other words, functional intertextuality implies that genres do not
accumulate randomly, but rather show "some typical sequence (or limited set of
acceptable sequences)" (Yates Orlikowski, 2002, p. 15).
At a level higher than a client's file, Devitt (1991, p. 352) recognizes the existence of
"the macrotext of the entire firm's work," corresponding to what archivists would
call a fonds. Making a parallel between the notion of macrotext, or genre system,
and that of documentary context may appear natural at this point. Both follow the
same functional logic and are implicated in purposeful activities. However, as
mentioned elsewhere (Foscarini, 2012), the genre system is broader than any file or
fonds, as it "reflects a complete interaction including all social relations and the
history of the interaction" (Artemeva, 2006, p. 27). Because genre is not only the
text, the documentary outcome or residue of a typified activity, but also the context,
the recognizable situation that shapes and is shaped by the text, a genre system
provides expectations of "what a community does and does not do (purpose), what
it does and does not value (content), what different roles members of the
community may or may not play (participants), and the conditions (time, place,
form) under which interactions should and should not occur" (Yates Orlikowski,
2002, p. 18).
More recently, scholars in other areas have used slightly different conceptions of
intertextuality to analyze how a variety of interconnected genres participate in the
accomplishment of collaborative work in organizational settings such as hospitals.
These scholars expand the notions of genre and intertextuality in order to better
analyze how records work in specific practical settings, offering situated analyses of
the documentary context of records that emphasize the role of texts in constituting
practice and handling its contingent nature.
Following Bazerman and others, Carsten 0sterlund noted that while the concept of
a genre system extends the notion of genre set to all the genres in use, thus
instantiating the participation of a plurality of parties in a work process or situation,
it does so under the general assumption of a sequential organization of genres. In his
study of the texts used in a hospital's emergency room, 0sterlund (2007) introduces
the notion of "genre combination" to show how genres can be associated or
conjoined non-sequentially, by forming accumulations that are driven not by the
sequential give-and-take of interaction, but through mere proximity or movement,
as forms physically follow the work activities (see also 0sterlund 2008).
This idea of genre combinations, 0sterlund claims, allows us to better understand
how tensions between generic continuity and change, between the stability and
instability of genres, can often get resolved not necessarily through the creation of
new genres, but simply through the (re)combination of existing ones. As 0sterlund
(2007, p. 101) contends: "The intertextual readings associated with genre
combinations can, in many situations, be established without changing socially
recognized expectations associated with an individual genre." Changes in the
combinations of existing genres can thus maintain the workability of those genres
and allow for the continuing viability of long-established genres even if new
situations seem to require generic innovation. Examining these non-sequential
genre combinations, 0sterlund states, "offers a window into how communities of
practice develop 'work-arounds' to buffer themselves from outdated or overly
restraining canonical business processes" (p. 105-06).
Another scholar, Lars Rune Christensen, has taken the notion of "intertext,"
developed by literary theorist Michel Riffaterre, as a way to go beyond the idea of
generic intertextuality in the analysis of cooperative work. Christensen (2016) sees
the "intertext" as a situational concept, a connection that workers establish between
relevant texts in a particular situation, for a particular purpose, and that allows
them to "know what to do next." The establishment of intertext "allows us to shift
the focus from considering the totality of documents among members of a
cooperative work ensemble to considering the perspective of the individual actor
making relations between selected texts for a particular purpose" (p. 16).
Intertextuality refers to the different ways in which that intertext can be achieved,
the different ways of making relations between the elements of a corpus of texts
(a genre system) and constructing meaning.
archives in liquid times
fiorella foscarini and juan ilerbaig intertextuality in the archives