Webpage Instability and Utility Content: Citizen’s Rights and the Law on Gov.UK


  • Silvia Cacchiani




linguistics, legal language, multimodality, website usability, interdiscourse, knowledge dissemination


The mission of the UK Ministry of Justice is to assist citizens with “making sense of justice,” the law and their rights (http://open.justice.gov.uk/). Its website can thus be seen as a seat for asymmetric mediation of knowledge in the legal field (Engberg and Luttermann 2014), intended to deliver good value both to lay users and institution: fast and satisfactory online responses to citizens’ qdfgdfueries are handy for the citizens and reinforce their willingness to give credibility to Ministry and the government as the principal organization and institution behind the website (Petitat 1998; 2004; Marková, Linell and Gillespie 2008). In this context, we carry out a qualitative study into knowledge representation (Kastberg 2010; Ditlevsen 2011) on the Your rights and the law pages of the UK government (https://www.gov.uk/browse/justice/rights) in order to discuss whether and to what extent citizens have quick and easy access to the information they are looking for – or basic support with the knowledge and documentation that they need to behave prosocially and responsibly. To this purpose, we integrate notions from research on website usability, layout arrangements and visual organization of knowledge (Nielsen 1995, inter alios) with notions from research on interdiscursive and interlocutive dialogism (Bres 1985; Bres and Nowakowska 2005; Loffler-Laurian 1983; Jacobi 1987; Adam and Herman 2000).


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