There is 'hope for you yet': The female drug offender in sentencing discourse

Mann, Monique, Menih, Helena, & Smith, Catrin (2014) There is 'hope for you yet': The female drug offender in sentencing discourse. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 47(3), pp. 355-373.

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Language and gender research has, in recent years, emphasised the importance of examining the context-specific ways in which people ‘do gender’ in different situations. In this paper, we explore how women involved in drug offences, specifically methamphetamine manufacture offences, are constructed within the language of the courts. Thirty-six sentencing transcripts from the New Zealand courts were examined to investigate how such offences, committed by women, are understood. In order to explore the representation of female offenders, a critical discourse analytic approach was adopted. Such an approach recognises that linguistic modes not only create and legitimise power inequalities but also embody a specific worldview. Three gendered discourses were identified in the sentencing texts:

(i) the discourse of femininity, reinforcing the socially prescribed female role;

(ii) the discourse of aberration, concerning women who breach traditional gender role expectations, and;

(iii) the discourse of salvation, presenting aberrant women with an opportunity to become ‘good’ women once again.

The findings illustrate the ways in which processes of gendering take place within a specific community of practice: the courtroom.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 91908
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Critical discourse analysis, Female offenders, Feminist theory, Gendering, Sentencing discourse
DOI: 10.1177/0004865814523436
ISSN: 0004-8658
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200) > Courts and Sentencing (160203)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology
Deposited On: 17 Jan 2016 23:28
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2016 05:54

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