Why bother? Institutionalisation, interpreter decisions and power relations

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This paper presents a case for the re-enactment of power relations when macrosocial, organizational structure influences interpersonal communication. A microsocial effect of the professionalization of community interpreting (ASL/ English) is examined through two cultural discourses about the interpreter’s role and a theoretical application of Goffman’s notion of footing. Management of the communication process by interpreters has become a deeply meaningful and potent site of cultural struggle because of an institutional structuring of professional ambiguity regarding impartiality. This ambiguity has produced conditions under which evaluating the interpreter’s performance of role becomes a microsocial necessity – a site for the exercise of individual and cultural agency.


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