Colleagues' talk and power after work hours: A community of practice in Facebook status updates?

Chun Nam Bernie MAK, Hin Leung CHUI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Workplace discourse analysis (WDA) has gathered momentum to researching how people interact and manipulate power in face-to-face workplace talk under the Communities of Practice (CofP) framework. However, WDA studies have seldom touched on how colleagues talk after work and outside the workplace; nor have these studies questioned whether the CofP framework can conceptualize such an emergent form of workplace talk. Drawing on empirical data collected from one Hong Kong branch of an Italian restaurant, this study aims to (1) explore how its employees communicate workplace issues and negotiate power in Facebook Status Updates after work and (2) examine use of the CofP framework in their talk which takes place outside the workplace. Adopting methods of discourse analysis, we find that colleagues individualize their talk in Status Updates for highlighting professionality, suggesting administrative changes, managing colleague relationships, and releasing work-oriented tension. In these processes involving Netspeak, institutional authority, official hierarchy and predetermined status are largely fluctuating or collapsing. Simultaneously, there are often ambiguity or invisibility in relation to the indispensable substances in a CofP, namely the strength of joint enterprises, form of mutual engagements and use of shared repertoire. We conclude by arguing that (1) Status Updates can be strategically used after work, usually in a more casual and personal manner, to attain workplace-oriented goals and re/negotiate power among colleagues, and that (2) it remains questionable whether the online workplace talk by a group of colleagues after work can be appropriately conceptualized by the existing use of CofP framework in WDA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-102
JournalDiscourse, Context & Media
Issue number2
Early online dateApr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


discourse analysis
Hong Kong


Mak, B. C. N., & Chui, H. L. (2013). Colleagues' talk and power after work hours: A community of practice in Facebook status updates? Discourse, Context & Media, 2(2), 94-102.


  • Facebook
  • Status updates
  • Workplace
  • Discourse
  • Power
  • Communities of practice