The emotional particulars of working on rape cases: doing dirty work, managing emotional dirt and conceptualizing 'tempered indifference'

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This paper asks: In what ways are the work of rape barristers dirty, with a particular focus on emotional dirt? What impact do clients’ burdensome emotions and affects have on barristers and what mechanisms are used to manage this taint? Based on 39 interviews with advocates from four English cities, we argue that emotional dirt is central to the taint of the role. Barristers must distance themselves from emotional dirt in order to maintain objectivity, yet simultaneously invest in those emotions in order to convince a jury. In these contradictory circumstances, barristers employ what we term ‘tempered indifference’, a form of emotional work premised on strategically turning emotions down. However, the subsequent ability to turn them back on remains debatable.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberazz054
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2019