Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dorothy A. Winsor
Historians and social scientists have long studied the construction and operation of conventional categories like "nature/culture." In this dissertation, I take a rhetorical approach to the study of a conventional category I refer to as the "technical/non-technical split," the arbitrary but powerful articulation of what is and is not "technical" that structures contemporary organizations. To accomplish this study, I conducted an ethnographic study of the ways that the organizational and individual belief in the separation of "technical" from "non-technical" structured daily work at an Internet startup company. I analyze the formation of the technical/non-technical structure, a formation caused by and resulting from the organization's change from a tiny virtual company of four to a formal organization of 16. I also explore the specifics of the re-distribution of labor, texts, and physical space, and examine the ways that those changes impact the distribution of material and social capital. I close by drawing out the implications of my study for scholars and instructors of rhetoric and professional communication. I explore the impacts of my study on the rhetoric of technology and the implications of my study for contemporary understandings of the position of technical writers within organizations.
Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu
David Paul Clark
Clark, David Paul, "A rhetoric of boundaries: living and working along a technical/non-technical split " (2001). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 1034.