The dynamics of power and resistance in police interview discourse

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This is a study of police interviewing using an integrated approach, drawing on CA, CDA and pragmatics. The study focuses on the balance of power and control, finding that in particular the institutional status of the participants, the discursive roles assigned to them by the context, and their relative knowledge, are significant factors affecting the dynamics of the discourse. Four discursive features are identified as particularly significant, and a detailed analysis of the complex interplay of these features shows that power and control are constantly under negotiation, and are always open to challenge and resistance. Further it is shown that discursive dominance is not necessarily advantageous to participants, due to the specific goals and purposes of the police interview context. A wider consideration of the context illustrates the contribution that linguistics can make to the use of police interview data as evidence in the UK criminal justice system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-759
Number of pages20
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • forensic linguistics
  • police interviews
  • power
  • institutional discourse


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