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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Resumes and choices : analyzing the discourses of a decision-making activity Semenova, Daria

Abstract

Available research on the resume genre assumes that the communicative purpose of the resume is promotional and persuasive. While there is ample evidence that this premise is true for North American resumes, the research on resumes across cultures is limited (Popken, 1993). Yet in light of the current trends of globalization and migration of skilled workers, the resume becomes an important genre to study cross-culturally. Research Question 1 explores the communicative purposes of the resume genre to see whether they are culturally universal. The findings here add to the limited research base by investigating the resume-writing practices of North America, Japan, and Russia. Research Question 2 is linked to Research Question 1 as it explores the issue of genre analysis: How can choice as revealed in insider accounts link genre, communicative purposes, and the social and cultural context of a genre? The study looks at the resume as a process and uses Systemic Functional Linguistics to examine language as a system of choice from which certain options are selected to achieve the desired outcomes (Halliday, 1994; Hasan, 1996). The thesis further draws on Mohan's (2000) look at language as choices based on reasons which are rooted in socioculturally grounded values and beliefs. Taking this decision-making perspective, the study examines the "insider accounts" (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983) of 12 groups of participants through the discourse of the resume-editing sessions and interviews. It looks at how people make decisions about the genre while writing a resume and talking about it. The participants' explanations of the reasons behind their choices are examined to illuminate the sociocultural aspects of the resume and interpret its communicative purpose across the three cultures. The findings show that while the broad purpose of the resume may be the same across cultures, it can be expressed differently through resume layout, content, and language. The reasons behind each of these choices are based on cultural beliefs which can be made explicit by examining the discourse of people who are engaged in talking about their choices while constructing a genre.

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