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Multilingual and intercultural communication in and beyond the UK asylum process: a linguistic ethnographic case study of legal advice-giving across cultural and linguistic borders

REYNOLDS, JUDITH,THERESA (2018) Multilingual and intercultural communication in and beyond the UK asylum process: a linguistic ethnographic case study of legal advice-giving across cultural and linguistic borders. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis investigates how asylum applicants and refugees in the UK, and legal professionals, communicate multilingually and interculturally within legal advice meetings concerning the processes of applying for asylum and for refugee family reunion. The thesis addresses the important question of how English-speaking immigration legal advisors negotiate understanding with clients from a range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds in order to deliver crucial legal advice and support.

Adopting a critical social constructionist perspective on language, culture, and communication, the thesis explores how a diverse range of linguistic, languacultural and discursive resources are employed to communicate within legal advice-giving. The thesis offers an in-depth analysis of legal-lay communication in the co-operative professional mediation setting of legal advice, contrasting with, and complementing, the existing literature on multilingual and intercultural communication in institutional gatekeeping contexts.

The research takes a linguistic ethnographic case study approach, applying methodological perspectives on researching multilingually and theoretical perspectives from institutional ethnography. It combines ethnographic fieldwork within an advice service offering asylum and refugee legal advice with linguistic analysis of observations and audio recordings of advice meeting interactions.  The linguistic analysis combines the micro-analytic tools of interactional sociolinguistics with a communicative activity type analysis of the discursive structuring of legal advice interactions, and a transcontextual analysis of the range of texts entering into the interaction.

The thesis demonstrates how refugee and asylum legal advice interactions are contextually framed by legal institutional intertextual hierarchies, which constrain, but also provide resources for, the purposeful communication taking place. It also demonstrates how a flexibly applied communicative activity type structure functions as a discursive tool to support intercultural communication. The thesis contributes to the fields of intercultural communication studies and professional and legal communication studies, and responds to broader issues of language and social justice, and the linguistic accessibility of institutions.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Legal-lay communication; legal advice; intercultural communication; multilingual communication; asylum law; refugee family reunion; linguistic ethnography; researching multilingually; ethnographic methods; discourse analysis; transcontextual analysis; communicative activity type analysis
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:21 Aug 2018 11:21

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