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Recontextualistion in the police station

Rock, Frances Eileen (2005)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Recontextualisation involves repetition and change; it is central to police work. Officers routinely transform the words of the legal institution by explaining them to lay people and they routinely transform the words of lay people for institutional use. This thesis explores police officers’ transformations of written and spoken language in two situations. First, in explaining the rights of detainees in custody and secondly, in collecting witness’ spoken accounts during investigations. The forms and functions of recontextualisation in police work are illustrated through the analysis of naturally occurring data, ethnographic observations and qualitative interviews. The investigation shows that recontexutalisations in these legal contexts are characterised by personalisation, collaboration and appropriation. Through personalisation, officers and detainees make rights texts relevant to detainees’ decisions. Through collaboration, officers share practices amongst themselves and create new formulations with lay people. Finally, through personalisation, routine procedures become vehicles for wide-ranging interpersonal and experiential work. Both officers and detainees exhibit sophisticated metalinguistic awareness, reflecting on their own recontextualisation practices and other practices that they encounter. The thesis concludes that recontextualisation in the police station is not simply about transmission of information and that its many other levels of meaning might usefully be recognised.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Coulthard, Malcolm
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
Department:Department of English
Additional Information:

Some appendices are not available in this digital version of the thesis. Further research based on this thesis is published as Rock, F. 'Communicating Rights: The Language of Arrest and Detention' Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, 9780230013315 2

Subjects:PE English
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:1019
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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