Two ways of spilling drink : The construction of offences as ‘accidental’ in police interviews with suspects
Ferraz de Almeida, F. (2022). Two ways of spilling drink : The construction of offences as ‘accidental’ in police interviews with suspects. Discourse Studies, 24(2), 187-205. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614456221090302
Published inDiscourse Studies
© The Author(s) 2022
This article explores the construction of offences as ‘accidental’ in police-suspect interactions. The data comprise audio-recorded investigative interviews, which were analysed using conversation analysis. In these interviews, suspects often do not explicitly state the nature of their defence when answering police officers’ questions; instead, suspects’ defensive practices or techniques are embedded in the narrative accounts they give of what happened, thus exhibiting rather claiming their ‘innocence’. My focus here is on a particular type of defence, namely, one in which suspects portray an event as having been ‘accidental’. I show that this defence of ‘accident’ is associated with several discourse features including: building a plausible and trivial context in which the untoward incident occurred, describing the untoward action or series of actions, using impersonal or agentless constructions, and representing the disproportionality between the putative victim’s reaction and the aggressor’s untoward conduct. The accountability of these descriptions, however, does not rely on one unique feature, but rather on suspects’ ability to combine these features in such a way that each establishes the grounds for others. ...
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Additional information about fundingThis study was funded in part by the CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, grant number 0667-2014-5.
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