Suspect Power in Selected American Police Interviews: A Sociopragmatic Analysis

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Wasan Hadi Kadhim, Muayyad Omran Chiad


The present study scrutinizes power as an influential social variable in three selected American police interviews with three suspects: George Huguely, Bryan Greenwell, and Lee Rodarte. The study aims at identifying the most and least exploited power strategies by suspects, the statistically significant differences between the various power strategies, and the devices that manifest each power strategy. In association with the aims, the study sets out three hypotheses: (1) denial is the most dominant strategy whereas mitigation is the least used by suspects, (2) significant differences can be noticed among the various suspect power strategies, and (3) each power strategy is manifested in discourse by specific devices, such as politeness and hedges. To achieve the aims and verify these hypotheses, the study develops a model consisting of two layers for the analysis. The first layer is composed of suspect power strategies that serve as an umbrella for the model. The second layer is based on Fairclough’s (1992, 2015) and Cotterill’s (2003) models and is composed of the devices that manifest the power strategies in discourse. Based on the findings, the study concludes that: (1) denial is the most dominant strategy whereas no comment is the least used in regards to suspect power strategies, (2) there are no statistically significant differences between suspect power strategies in impact, which suggests that all power strategies are effectively used, and (5) seven devices are utilized by suspects to manifest their strategies including cooperative principle, hedges, politeness, formulation, topic management, silence, and questions.

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