The Technical Communicator as (Post-Postmodern) Discourse Worker

Greg Wilson, Rachel Wolford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article reexamines Henry’s 2006 proposal for training technical communicators as “discourse workers,” as a solution within a certain postmodern problematic, in which changing economic conditions in the late 1990s and early 2000s made workers vulnerable to exploitation, outsourcing, and layoffs. Henry used postmodern and critical theory to describe discourse as a medium of leverage for enabling workers to define new workplace agencies. Even though Henry’s discourse worker is an appealing concept buttressed by solid theory, it did not become a widely implemented model for pedagogy or workplace practice. To reexamine Henry’s concept, the authors exchange late 20th-century postmodern theory for the more recent articulation of “post-postmodern” theory proposed by Nealon and explore the implications of swapping out the postmodern puzzle piece for a post-postmodern puzzle piece in Henry’s formulation of the discourse worker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-29
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Business and Technical Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • agency
  • mêtis
  • post-postmodernism
  • postmodernism
  • technical communication


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