Social diversity in legal practice: competing resources

Katrijn Maryns

Antwerp University, Belgium Ghent University, Belgium

TP150: Organisations and Interviewing: from the interactional to the institutional

This paper addresses the ways diversity is treated in a multi-cultural legal-administrative context. Based on ethnographic data collected in two widely divergent domains of legal practice in Belgium (the asylum procedure and the jury court procedure), this paper starts from a systematic exploration of the ways individual contextualisation resources compete with institutional ones for being accepted as evidence in institutional interviewing practices. The paper then shows how this corpus of micro-analytical observations uncovers discursive patterns, which steers the analysis towards an exploration of how particular institutionalised discursive practices have gained a naturalised status while other, ‘culturalised’ discursive procedures tend to be suppressed or barred from the debates. Finally, the analytical observations will be considered in relation to the administration of justice and the position it takes up in an increasingly changing society.


D’Hondt, S. , M. Meeuwis, K. Beyens, J. Blommaert, J. Verschueren & B. Machiels (2004) Interculturele communicatie in rechtbanken. Gent: Politeia.

Gumperz, J. (1982) Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Maryns Katrijn (2006) The asylum speaker: Language in the Belgian asylum procedure. Manchester: St Jerome Publishing.

Sarangi, S. and Roberts, C. (eds.) (1999) Talk, Work and Institutional Order: Discourse in Medical, Mediation and Management Settings. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Session: Themed Panel (part 1)
Organisations and Interviewing: From the interactional to the institutional
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 09:00-10:30
room: 06