Impression Management and Face Sensitivities in Delta State Courtroom Interactions
Participants in courtroom interactions consciously or subconsciously construct identities and impressions that influence the way they are perceived. This study investigates the management of impression and face sensitivity in courtroom interactions in High Court proceedings in Delta State. Within the theoretical framework of Rapport Management Model (Spencer-Oatey), the study examines how impression management mediates legal processes and decisions by highlighting the strategies that courtroom participants employ in creating specific impressions of themselves or others, with the motive of maintaining face concerns. It also identifies the place of cultural norms in the deployment of the strategies and explains how these norms influence judicial proceedings and decisions. Data for this research comprise audio recordings of naturally-occurring speech of participants in the courtroom and personal observations of courtroom interactions in three divisions of the state’s High Courts. It was found that to manage face sensitivities, courtroom interactants created diverse impressions of themselves or others by deploying impression management strategies such as self-promotion, intimidation, apologies, ingratiation and conformity as determined by the peculiarities of legal procedures and cultural norms. In addition to enhancing public perceptions, these strategies mediate judicial proceedings, interpretations and decisions.