Degree Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Dorothy A. Winsor

Abstract

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.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31274/rtd-180813-67

Publisher

Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu

Copyright Owner

David Paul Clark

Language

en

Proquest ID

AAI3016698

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

176 pages

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