“Community of Memory”

Chapter 8 of our reading from the book Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference; focuses on Community of Memory and Dwelling. It is here that we are introduced to what community of memory is, and how organizations are the holders of it. Robert Bellah and his co-authors describe the terminology as an organizations sense of consciousness, retaining what that organization deems as good. A community of memory within an organization frames it’s identity and its political life. From a communications ethics perspective; organizations offer places to participate, belong, play, and work; they situate our lives, giving meaning beyond our individual selves (Arnett, Fritz, & Bell, 2009, p. 145).

This weeks blog post required us to recall a time when difference within an organization served as or produced a “rhetorical interruption”. A rhetorical interruption is simply a communicative event that disrupts our sense of the routine (p. 163)

I immediately reflected upon a time when my work life required some significant changes; which happened to be a challenge for me. Being employed with any organization you have to be flexible with change; however, that doesn’t always necessarily mean you agree with it. After being employed with the same company for over 4yrs and rising in the ranks from associate to manager; I found myself in a precarious situation at the end of 2014. My then manager at the time Scott, had informed me that our line of business was restructuring and I was not only losing my entire team; but I would also be working with a group that i wasn’t accustomed to.

man in brown long sleeved button up shirt standing while using gray laptop computer on brown wooden table beside woman in gray long sleeved shirt sitting
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Now this was definitely a disruption to my entire routine; as I had built strong bonds with each of my direct employee’s and I was use to working with the management team that I had been a part of since 2011. This disruption required a mental shift in how I operated, in order to prevent myself from becoming a pessimist about the hierarchy change. I went from having a support system of 8 other individuals, to suddenly just becoming a sole individual contributor. When you work with people everyday you develop substantial bonds. Part of the struggle for me was not the change in title; but the changes that were going to impact my role and job functionality. I had to work on a series of projects I was not familiar with, so I lost my sense of work stability.

From a professional standpoint, this change could also be viewed as an internal culture shock; as it was a disruption to my normal work routine (p. 156). Two behaviors that had to coexist in order for me to have a more positive outlook about the matter were Evaluation of self, and application of listening within Dialogic of ethics. One practice required me to become attentive to the ongoing premise of learning something new.  Fear can sometime cause uneasiness, so I had to evaluate my circumstances to remove fear and see a world of new possibilities with the change in role. The other practice is that Dialogic ethics listens to what is before communicative partners who are culturally different from one another, attends to the historical moment, and seeks to negotiate new possibilities. I realized ultimately, that I “HAD” to embrace the change if I wanted to continue growing professionally. The caveat to me being in the same role for so long is that I had become complacent in my professional growth development; and this change forced growth upon me.

We cannot change events, but our telling, our way of making meaning of those events, does change with time, highlighting particular understandings of the good in organizational life. It is not simply “what happened” that matters, but our public “meaning making” of that event, which can and does shift ver time, that reveals our understanding for the relations of organizational events to the goods that are protected and promoted (p. 146)


Bellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W. M., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. M. (1985). Habits of the   heart: Individualism and commitment in American life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Arnett, R.C., Bell, L.M., Fritz, J., (2009) Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue                       and Difference, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications












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