Language in Society



The discourse of resistance: Social change and policing in Northern Ireland


JOHN  WILSON  a1 and KARYN  STAPLETON  a2
a1 School of Communication, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland, j.wilson@ulster.ac.uk
a2 School of Communication, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland, k.stapleton@ulster.ac.uk

Article author query
wilson j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
stapleton k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

Modern social theory highlights the role of language in social change/reproduction, yet rarely draws on actual linguistic resources or theory. Equally, sociolinguistics situates linguistic practice within the social domain, but only weakly makes links to social theory. Using a linguistic analysis of policing discourses in Northern Ireland, this article considers how such analyses can both inform and be informed by broader social theories. Policing is a contentious issue for nationalists, and despite recent reforms, many continue to regard the (new) police force with suspicion. Data from nationalist women in Belfast are used to explore the thematic frameworks and interactional/pragmatic strategies (pragmatic blocking) through which the speakers jointly produce a “discourse of resistance,” effectively blocking acceptance of the new service. The analysis is discussed in relation to theories of social change (with particular reference to Bourdieu's habitus). Considered are implications for sociolinguistics, social theory, and policing policy in Northern Ireland. a

(Received October 10 2005)
(Revised April 25 2006)
(Accepted April 10 2006)


Key Words: policing; Northern Ireland; nationalists; discourse; habitus; resistance; pragmatic blocking; social theory.


Footnotes

a This article derives from an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded study (Award No. RES 00-22-0257).



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