Polisstudent, kopparstick

New research project in forensic linguistics at Södertörn University

Lina Nyroos and Hedda Söderlundh, both researchers in Swedish linguistics, have received funding from Vetenskapsrådet for a three year long project entitled “Interactional Patterns in Swedish Police Interviews. ‘Doing objectivity’ when Asking Information Seeking Questions” [VR-dnr 2021–03044]. From a forensic linguistic perspective, they will study interactional features of real-life Swedish police interviews (PIs).

In a state governed by the rule of law, PIs must be carried out in an objective and impartial manner. Stakeholders’ rights must be considered throughout the preliminary investigation, yet, criticism has been raised concerning how the Swedish police conforms to such principles. This project will examine Swedish PIs as a site where principles of rule of law are managed in situ, through interaction. Audio recordings will be analyzed with particular focus on how objectivity is enacted and performed through information seeking questioning, and in oral summaries of the interviewee’s statements.

The theoretical framework is Conversation Analysis (CA), which allows for thorough investigation of the micro-cosmos of interactional practices. Results are significant for understanding the micro-management of a state governed by rule of law. Increased knowledge on how PIs are interactionally accomplished through practices on the micro level, ultimately informs us about the social order on the macro level. Internationally, the amount of research on PIs has increased during the last decades, however, a fairly limited amount of research has been conducted on Swedish PIs. This project and it’s results will contribute to the fields of Forensic Linguistics and Police Studies, and will be of relevance to the Police Education’s courses on interviewing techniques.

The project is funded by Vetenskapsrådets new research programme in criminality.

Link to the project's website (in Swedish)