Ideology in the Language of Judges: How Judges Practice Law, Politics, and Courtroom Control

By Susan U. Philips | Go to book overview

6
Ideological Diversity in Legal Discourses

Ideology in Discourse Revisited

At the beginning of this book, I talked about how the Marxist tradition offers a model of ideology as socially ordered and as grounded in society, even though this model is simplistic in its image of a dualistic opposition between dominant and subordinate ideologies. And I suggested that the oversimplicity of this model is due in part to its lack of empirical engagement, particularly engagement with actual ongoing social practices. Marxist approaches to ideology acknowledge a role for language as a manifestation of ideology, but this role is not well developed. However, there is now a literature that looks at resistance as symbolic interaction ( Willis 1977; Scott 1990), pays increasing attention to ideological diversity in legal language use in courts ( Merry 1990; Conley & O'Barr 1990; Matoesian 1993), and fosters an emerging awareness of the shaping influence of relations of domination and subordination in the constitution of ideologies in discourse practices. Linguistic anthropological approaches to situated language use in the traditions of the ethnography of communication and textual analysis (which show culture and ideology constituted in discourse) offer theoretical and methodological models for the empirical and practical grounding of ideology in language use. But here, attention to the significance of power and to the shaping influence of relations of domination and subordination was much less developed than in Marxist traditions generally and is only now emerging in the study of language within these traditions.

In this book I bring together the Marxist study of ideology in law and the linguistic anthropological study of the constitution of culture in discourse to characterize and shed light on the nature of ideological diversity in legal discourse practices.

-116-

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