In writing The Technical Communicator as Advocate: Integrating a Social Justice Approach in Technical Communication, Natasha N. Jones challenges the field of technical and professional communication and its respective practice. By analyzing the historical implications of the emergence of technical communication, she illustrates the need to redefine technical communication by refocusing it on the inclusive human experience rather than a way to streamline written communication. Jones writes, “Within the context of the industrial revolution, attention was focused on efficiency, expediency, and streamlining processes, not the human experience.” While she acknowledges the original idea behind technical communication—to simplify the modes of communication between separate parties—she also draws attention to the demand for technical communication that speaks to a wider audience, specifically those who deal with societal oppression.
The role of the technical communicator is called into question when Jones charges them with the responsibility to reevaluate the field and help it evolve into a field that advocates for social justice issues alongside promoting clear, effective communication. “[S]cholars must now encourage a reconceptualization of the field to incorporate contexts of social justice and human rights.” Jones discusses the need for pedagogical progression starting right at this source: the technical communicators and scholars in the field. She argues that if social justice teachings is incorporated in the indoctrination of a re-emerging guideline that technical communicators refer to when planning their lessons, it’ll reach a broader audience, eventually redefining the field of TPC. Specifically, Jones points out a chain reaction that can occur when social justice perspectives are integrated in the teachings and inquiries of scholars in the field. “Technical communicators must integrate a social justice perspective into their scholarly inquiry in order to further legitimize the field and empower TPC scholars as well as [others].”
This new wave of inclusive technical communication is beneficial to the population as a whole. It demands better representation of marginalized and oppressed groups, laying the groundwork for social progression. Fighting for social justice is a major cause in the twenty-first century, and in order to remain sensitive to contemporary social changes, technical communicators must change the trajectory of their field, targeting a more inclusive, approachable outcome. Technical communicators bridge the gap between raw information and the general public, and the field of technical communication would benefit greatly from adjustment to fit the needs of the general public, without subscribing to the long-standing legacies of oppression.
The Technical Communicator as Advocate: Integrating a Social Justice Approach in Technical Communication, by Natasha N. Jones
Viewpoint Written by Sherralyn Robbins, University of Maine
Edited by Eliana De La Garza, Texas State University