Item Details

Suspects' resistance to constraining and coercive questioning strategies in the police interview

Issue: Vol 13 No. 2 (2006)

Journal: International Journal of Speech Language and the Law

Subject Areas: Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.2006.13.2.213


Discussions of institutional discourse have frequently focused on asymmetrical power relationships between participants. However, although power and control have been the focus of much critical writing in discourse studies, far less attention has been paid to resistance as an interactional resource. This article uses a qualitative Hallidayan approach to explore questions and responses in an interview between police and Dr Harold Shipman, focusing on resistance strategies employed by him in relation to the institutionally more powerful interviewer. The interviewee actively resists powerful questions through contest, correction, avoidance and refusal, whilst negotiating the costs of resistance, such as challenge to the consensus of control and flouting of the Cooperative Principle (Grice 1975) that would result in presenting an uncooperative speaker. The interview is seen as a site of resistant struggle, where agreement and disagreement are actively negotiated and where each participant attempts to produce different goals and opposing roles.

Author: Phillip Newbury, Alison Johnson

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