Power, status, and emotion management in professional court work–the case of judges and prosecutors
preprintposted on 26.02.2021, 12:13 by Åsa Wettergren, Stina Bergman Blix
We examine key characteristics of the work tasks of judges and prosecutors from a power and status perspective, discerning how emotions tie into this perspective. Analysis of court observations, interviews and shadowing of judges and prosecutors at four Swedish district courts and prosecution offices shows that power and status operate differently for the respective professions, resulting in distinct emotions and emotion management strategies. For analytical purposes we adopt a split power concept: power over and power to. The judges’ rather distinct power over requires a certain status in order to be comfortably executed, counteracting guilt and shame in relation to lay people. The prosecutors’ work is characterised by dependent power relations and the enactment of status both to the police and to judges for their power to perform their work. We suggest that this gives rise to different emotional profiles for the two professional roles. The article highlights the malleable and relativistic dimensions of power and status, and above all their inherent emotional qualities.