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Computer-mediated communication in the business territory: A joint expedition through e-mail messages and reflections upon job activities

, University of Toronto , Canada

University of Toronto . Awarded


This dissertation is an account of my exploration through the business territory which aimed at understanding what it was like to interact in English through computers from the Brazilian professionals' point of view. More specifically, it aimed at investigating what was involved in experiencing e-mail for professional communication, in interacting in English through computers, and in reflecting upon computerized activities performed in the workplace. To achieve these goals, I adopted a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to research which, by focusing on descriptions and shared interpretations, enabled me to identify some of the genres conveyed in professional contexts and to understand the meaning of using computers for professionals purposes.

Data were collected in six meetings with five Brazilian professionals from three corporations in which we discussed 152 e-mail messages. By using these samples both as object of inquiry and as input for reflection, we addressed the types of texts and communicative purposes usually conveyed through the electronic medium, and reflected upon the social actions that customarily associated co-workers together in online interactions. In addition, our conversations involved the recollection of the experiences the participants lived in and out of their work places, eliciting a process of reflection upon practice (Schön,1983,1987,1991,1992) that revealed their interpretation of some features of their professional landscapes (Clandinin & Connelly, 1995).

E-mail messages were analyzed from the perspective of their structural and rhetorical recurrences. This procedure enabled me to identify that the samples collected conformed to a set/repertoire and to a system of genres, as well as perceiving that some genres performed overlapping functions. This characterization not only revealed the relationships among the genres investigated, but also provided insights about the communication practices enacted within each corporation.

In considering the outcomes of the reflective process, the participants and I made significant discoveries. I realized the impact of practice on foreign language learning and came to perceive workplaces as inherent educational sites. The participants, in their various ways, developed new insights in instrumental, linguistic, and professional terms. Reflecting upon tacit routines led them to think about their practices from an unfamiliar point of view and, in some cases, to reframe certain habitual procedures.


Freire, M.M. Computer-mediated communication in the business territory: A joint expedition through e-mail messages and reflections upon job activities. Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto. Retrieved March 19, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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