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Sommer Sigala

Mrs. Litle

ENG 121.003

11 March 2018

The Mind Behind Human Activity

The main idea of Charles Bazerman's article "Speech Acts, Genres, and Activity

Systems: How Texts Organize Activity and People" is determine human activity such as; the

speech act, social facts, and genres. Speech act is words said at the right time, in the right order

by the right person. The speech act consists of three levels; the first one is the locutionary which

is literal words coming from someone, the second one is the illocutionary this is what one

intends someone to identify, and the last one is perlocutionary this is how people respond to the

acts for the future. The three levels allow us to understand what is being represented. Social facts

are things that people believe to be the truth, which helps them deal with situations. Social facts

rely on subjects that matter the most to people socially, and the words people write and speak.

Social facts aren’t always true, they can be miss leading so people think they are true, so they

believe they are. Social facts put weight on someone to make believe they are real, and to act a

certain way. Something that we see as a social fact is genres because they are what we believe

they are. They are very recognizable, self-reinforcing, and form when people attempt to

understand one another. Genres are important because they have a large part in shaping social

activity, everywhere they appear. There are two kinds of genres, a genre set and a genre system.

They both work together, for example if we are talking about d2l our website for school you

would have two groups our teachers and students. They both can’t work together without one

another; the genre set would be the teachers and how they put d2l to use whether it’s for

homework or even grades. The genre system will be the students and whether they choose to do

the homework and respond to the set. There is genre all around us, we can consider them as

categories like styles of music or sports. Genre is just a piece of what Bazerman determines as

human activity. All the three areas, speech act, social facts, and genre all combined makes up

Bazerman’s point of what human activity is and how we describe it.

After reading Bazerman’s article I have developed some opinions based on what human

activity is according to him. To start off I agree with how he presents the terms; social act,

genres, and speech act, although I think there are more that can be added. When I see the word

human activity I automatically think of faith in religion. Human activity in our world is revolved

around the mindset if you do the right thing you are going to heaven, but if you mess up you are

going to hell. Since we are always trying to do the right things it affects our daily lives. For an

example; If you believe in one religion you follow that path because it is socially right for your

religion, but that doesn’t mean you believe in it, it’s just what is considered the right thing to do.

Bazerman has three keys to human activity the speech act, social act, and genres. The social act

is what stands out most to me. This stands out to me the most because so many people of higher

power use words as actions. Bazerman in his article Speech Acts, Genres, and Activity Systems:

How Texts Organize Activity and People, states “If people believe that their country had been

offended or threatened by another country, they may even go to war over what they believe to be

fact” (pg.369). Another example of this is if you were to appear in a court house and the judge

says you’re guilty that represents you going to jail and shows that words aren’t just words, they

are also actions.


While reading Bazerman’s explanation on the three connections to human activity, I

started to think about how I approach them in everyday life. The main one that we use or see

every day that I would like to discuss is genres. Genres are all around us, and sometimes we may

not even notice. When selecting music to add to your playlist you select what kind of genre you

want to listen to, such as hip-hop, country, rap, classical, etc. Another example of genre would be

sports, including soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc. “Genres typify many things beyond textual

form. They are part of the way that humans give shape to social activity,” stated Bazerman (373).

Genres shapes this because when we are somewhere we feel the need to do what others are

doing. If we were in a library we would feel the need to be quiet and work like everyone else, or

if we were at a pep rally we would be screaming and cheering for what event is going on. In my

opinion, if genres did not exist in our society then we would all be the same. There would be no

originality and no way to express ourselves.

Bazerman has some great ideas on what forms humans and what shapes our everyday

activity. Social facts, speech act, and genres are what make up human activity and without them

we wouldn’t be as unique or be able to express ourselves in the way we do now.


Work Cited

Bazerman, Charles. “Speech Act, Genres, and Activity Systems: How Texts Organize Activity

and people.” What Writing Does and How It Does It: An introduction to Analyzing Texts

and Textual Practices. Ed. Charles Bazerman and Paul Prior. London: Routledge, 2004.

309-39. Print.