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Portrait of Lisa Flower. Photo: Emma Lord.

Lisa Flower

Associate Professor | Associate Senior Lecturer

Portrait of Lisa Flower. Photo: Emma Lord.

Dramatic Subtlety: Exploring Anger and Strategic Niceness in the Courtroom


  • Lisa Flower

Summary, in English

Traditionally, the law has been considered as devoid of emotions, however recent research has begun to analyze the courtroom as an emotional scene. The emotion norms of the courtroom are thus interesting to explore and, as the courtroom work and emotions of de- fense lawyers have received little sociological attention, this will be the focus of this paper. The aim here is to show the emotions that are present in the courtroom and how they are managed using the case of anger and I will also discuss the use of niceness. The paper will also explore the ways in which anger and niceness should be displayed in order to both conform to the emotional regime of the courtroom and in order to show loyalty to the cli- ent, loyalty comprising the guiding principle of defense lawyers in Sweden. The paper will also discuss the background to the recent shift from viewing courtrooms as unemotional arenas to a move in sociological and legal research aimed at uncovering the emotions lying beneath. I aim therefore to explore what defense lawyers actually do in the courtroom, that is, the interactional and emotional strategies used to represent clients in order to give the impression of being loyal to the client. By studying this in a context where the scope for expressive gestures is limited, namely the Swedish courtroom, it is possible to gain a greater understanding into the prevailing emotional regime of the courtroom and the ways in which legal representation is performed. This paper draws on ethnographic field- notes from courtrooms in Sweden and interviews with defense lawyers. The emotional regime in the courtroom is also discussed, outlining the emotional parameters of the courtroom.


  • Sociology

Publishing year







NSfK’s 58 Research Seminar : New challenges in criminology; can old theories be used to explain or understand new crimes?



Document type

Conference paper


Nordiska Samarbetsrådet för Kriminologi


  • Sociology


  • Emotion work
  • Law
  • Impression management
  • Criminology
  • Emotions
  • Loyalty
  • Ethnography




  • ISBN: 978-82-7688-046-5