Cultural orientation in the negotiation of justice in Nigerian adjudicative discourses

31 May 2024
Room E1

Cultural orientation in the negotiation of justice in Nigerian adjudicative discourses

The Nigerian legal system comprises both the conventional court system and the culturally- inclined alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system. The former is rigidly legally-constrained contra the latter which seems to dis-orient to the principles of the rule of law but seems acceptable to people in large measure because of its negotiability. In the course of the negotiation, participants’ identities are constructed as apriori and emergent phenomena which consequently constrain justices. Earlier studies have concentrated on the use of social variables, speech variations, code alternations, naming, communicative styles, lexical items as markers of identity, but have neglected participants’ strict cultural orientations in the negotiation of justice. This research is, therefore, set to explore how justice is culturally negotiated to show the process and product of ADR as an index of societal peaceful co-existence.  The study adopted Functionalism theory of culture and Locher and Graham’s (2010) Interpersonal pragmatics, which respectively are concerned with discursive construction of justice, discursive negotiation of social realities, sequence and situatedness of discourse. Data comprises purposively selected taped hearing sessions and documented cases between 2010 and 2017 in three southwestern Nigerian universities: University of Ibadan, Adekunle and Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), where alternative dispute resolution is practiced. The data are subjected to pragmatic analysis. The findings reveal that Nigerian adjudicative encounters are punctuated with restorative and regulatory cultural orientations. These orientation are indexed articulated through the cultural values of patience, family sense, children innocence, in-laws’ adoration, integrity, male supremacy and caution. These orientations projected three categories of justice, namely, distributive, restorative and interactional justices which are expressed through culturalization of discursive action, individualization of discursive action and analogization of experience. The justices are marked by information packing construction. The study concludes that culture plays important role(s)in the construction and negotiation of justice  but also establish its impacts in the restoration of societal peace.



Locher, M. & Graham, S. (2010). Introduction to interpersonal pragmatics,(pp.1-13). Mouton de Gruyter.

Malinowski, B. (1944). A Scientific Theory of Culture, and Other Essays. Carolina Press