International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 263–275

Mater Dolorosa: Negotiating Support in NSW Youth Justice Conferencing


DOI: 10.1007/s11196-013-9340-y

Cite this article as:
Zappavigna, M. & Martin, J.R. Int J Semiot Law (2014) 27: 263. doi:10.1007/s11196-013-9340-y


At the heart of Youth Justice Conferencing, a form of restorative justice aimed at addressing youth crime, is the notion that young persons who have committed an offence should be ‘reintegrated’ into their communities (Braithwaite in Crime, shame and reintegration. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989). This paper focuses on the role of parents as support persons, in particular the ‘crying mum’, an identity often leveraged by the Convenor when prompting the young person to express remorse to the circle. We explore an Avouchment genre that we have observed whereby support persons vouch for the character of the young person. Our analysis considers the ways in which values are composed (as ideational categories are coupled with evaluative interpersonal ones) and unfold in discourse as invitations for participants to align. In Knight’s (2010) terms, when shared, couplings of ideation and evaluation engender bonds through which participants may commune.


Youth Justice ConferencingSupport personsSystemic functional linguisticsDiscourse analysis

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Arts and the Media, Robert Webster BuildingUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Linguistics, Transient Building F12University of SydneySydneyAustralia