Generic structure potential

A concept intended to problematize the assumption that any text classified as an instance of a particular genre is simply a faithful reproduction of that genre's conventions. Texts are rather, as Hyland (2002) says, "spread along a continuum of approximation to core genre examples with varying options and restrictions operating in particular cases" (p. 120). Therefore it is the potential in "generic structure potential" that should be highlighted in thinking about the affordances and constraints available when a text performs a genre.


Hyland, K. (2002). Genre: Language, context, and literacy. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 22, 113-135. 


The generic structure potential of a seller/customer interaction includes a greeting, sale initiation/request, sale compliance, purchase, and purchase closure (Hasan, 1989). 

Original Use: 

Hasan, R. (1989). The structure of a text. In M.A.K. Halliday & R. Hasan (Eds.), Language, context, and text: Aspects of language in a social semiotic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 52-69.

Contributed by: 

Emerging Genres class, N.C. State University, Spring 2010

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