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Between police and community: A linguistic ethnographic exploration of heteroglossia in the discourse of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)

Wegorowski, Piotr 2018. Between police and community: A linguistic ethnographic exploration of heteroglossia in the discourse of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are salaried members of police staff whose main responsibilities include providing reassurance to members of the public, primarily through high-visibility foot patrol. They are a cornerstone of community policing in England and Wales, meant to act as a bridge between the police and communities. The present study investigates how this liminal position is realised discursively. The analysis, grounded in linguistic ethnography and informed by interactional sociolinguistics, is applied to authentic interactions collected during nine months linguistic ethnographic fieldwork with PCSOs in a variety of contexts, including police-community meetings and fleeting encounters on the beat. The thesis argues that PCSOs’ discursive practices can be characterised as heteroglossic (Bakhtin 1981), and it uses the lens of heteroglossia to explore three central themes. Firstly, the analysis shows how PCSOs perform and negotiate a multiplicity of roles. These roles represent a heteroglossic repertoire of resources, which can index the institution, communities and individual citizens. Secondly, the exercise and negotiation of authority in interaction is demonstrated. Authority claims are shown to be legitimised by a number of voices. And finally, talk about space is examined to reveal multiple layers of space that PCSOs and members of the public orient to in interaction. I consider how heteroglossia is realised through the multiplicity of linguistic resources used by PCSOs, such as specialised vocabulary and strategic use of pronouns, and multiple voices, reflective of the institutional rules and procedures as well as individual citizens and heterogenous communities. The findings suggest that community policing is inherently heteroglossic, and PCSOs discursively negotiate a range of tensions in their daily interactions with members of the public. Such thinking about community policing contradicts somewhat the central premise of PCSOs as serving a simple bridge between police and community.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 April 2019
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2019 14:39

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