"Well did you feel jealous?" Control and ideology in police interviews with rape complainants

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The methods used by the UK Police to investigate complaints of rape have unsurprisingly come under much scrutiny in recent times, with a 2007 joint report on behalf of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary concluding that there were many areas where improvements should be made. The research reported here forms part of a larger project which draws on various discourse analytical tools to identify the processes at work during police interviews with women reporting rape. Drawing on a corpus of video recorded police interviews with women reporting rape, this study applies a two pronged analysis to reveal the presence of these ideologies. Firstly, an analysis of the discourse markers ‘well’ and ‘so’ demonstrates the control exerted on the interaction by interviewing officers, as they attach importance to certain facts while omitting much of the information provided by the victim. Secondly, the interpretative repertoires relied upon by officers to ‘make sense’ of victim’s accounts are subject to scrutiny. As well as providing micro-level analyses which demonstrate processes of interactional control at the local level, the findings of these analyses can be shown to relate to a wider context – specifically prevailing ideologies about sexual violence in society as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-57
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Police interviews
  • rape
  • discourse markers
  • interpretative repertoires


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