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Accommodating a New Frontier: The Context of Law Enforcement


This chapter spotlights communication accommodation theory (CAT: see Giles, Coupland & Coupland, 1991) -- a longstanding framework (Gallois, Ogay & Giles, 2005: Giles, 1973) that has been heralded as one of the most prominent in the social psychology of language (Tracy & Haspel, 2004) and one that has captured cross-disciplinary imaginations (Coupland & Jaworski, 1997). The theory has had a hsitory of application to an array of organizational contexts (e.g. Bourhis, 1991) and, herein, we add another exciting possibility, namely its relevance for a more incisive appreciation of understanding police-civilian relations. After a brief discussion about what images people hold of police officers, we introduce CAT with particular attention to its face and identity concerns, whilst we distil the theoretical essence of CAT down to four key principles, underscoring its potential for developing not only an innovative reserach agenda for the future, but also for suggesting new theoretical propositions to test in this applied domain.

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