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Learning to make a case in law school: Categorizing events and actions in legal discourse

Journal article
Authors Åsa Mäkitalo
Published in Psicologia Culturale. Contesto, cultura, diritto (a cura di J. Bruner, F. Di Donato & A. Smorti)
Issue No 3
Pages 83-113
Publication year 2013
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 83-113
Language en
Keywords Sociocultural studies, Learning, Law School, Legal Discourse, Categorization
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Pedagogy, Learning, Law


The background of this study is a general interest in issues of human learning and thinking, and, more specifically, what it implies to appropriate institutional forms of knowing. The article aims to illuminate some particularities of everyday academic life among first term law students as they engage in legal discourse. The reader will be invited to a sociocultural account of the role of institutionalization (Bruner, 2008) for cognitive and communicative socialization, and to follow the reasoning within a group of students as it unfolds in their daily academic practice. The aim of the article is to illuminate and make salient some recurring features of the ways through which students learn to use legal categories, artefacts and rhetorical strategies (Billig, 1996; Wertsch, 2007). Such features are illustrated through a set of selected excerpts in which the students engage in a task of making a legal case from a set of narrated events.

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