Front and Back Stage Presentations: The Convergence of Presentation, Negotiation, and Adjudication of Domestic Violence Cases




Hamilton, Leilani R

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This thesis focuses on the symbolic interaction and socialization through front and back stage presentations of those identified as criminal justice actors. The research and observations take place over the course of two months in the meeting room of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in a courthouse in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The discussions and negotiations observed by the researcher involve domestic violence cases and include the leading actors (prosecutors and defense attorneys) and the supporting cast (police officers, victim advocates, and probation officers). The meeting room where the observations took place is not open to the public and was available to this researcher as a victim advocate who was a part of this group of actors. Front stage observations revealed, with the exception of defense attorneys, the actors presented a consistent and unified presentation in line with their expected roles. The back stage observations revealed true beliefs and values and presented a less ix cohesive group, although defense attorneys were generally never fully part of the overall group to begin with. The one exception occurred during the down time between cases being called where all of the actors felt free to participate in conversations unrelated to the domestic violence cases. This thesis provides suggestions for further research that would contribute to the overall discussion on the presentation of self in everyday activities.



Domestic violence, Presentation of self, Participant observer, Court actors, Front and back stage