Recontextualistion in the police station

Rock, Frances Eileen (2005). Recontextualistion in the police station. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English


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