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PUEB research projects

Semiotics of justice: organizing of translation process in the work of a lawyer - the case of Poznań district

Source of funding: National Science Centre, Poland
Funding Scheme: PRELUDIUM 14
Project ID number: 2017/27/N/HS6/00723  
Start date: 08.08.2018 
Finish date: 07.08.2021
Amount of funding:  115 850  zł


Have you ever wondered how the work of a lawyer looks like? But really, what it would be to walk the shoes of attorney at law?


Let’s say, that you come to work at 10 a.m. because you were working late on this succession case. Your assistant Joan is already waiting for you with the coffee – you didn’t even have to ask. It’s nice by her side, isn’t it? Would you smile at her? You come to your office and sit at the oak desk. You hand the morning paper – The Voice of Great Poland – but you do not really have the time to read the news, because Mrs. Kwiatkowska (the one with the alimony) is coming soon. You need to look through the papers. Recently she brought you a pile of documents to make the evidence out of them, because “that pig surely cheats on her! You can see it in his eyes! He always has dark circles under them when he comes back from work”. You are not really surprised, but what to do? Exactly, what to do?


In terms of semiotics the word ‘justice’ does not carry any specific meaning until it is associated with a specific experience of unfair treatment. At the same time the language and complexity of legal procedures requires suport of someone able to translate the interest of a given person into the strange system of ideas and to organize the case in such a way that it reflects proper relations between people in the light of law. In this respect, a lawyer does not state what is just but interprets and creates some image of social order, the justice of which is deliberated during the trial. What is the image? How does it form? These are some of the questions I try to address in my work in an attempt  to understand the structure of the judicial system, not only as an organizational system but also as space for experiences and relations between people.


The work of a lawyer seem to be governed by many rationalities, defining different solutions as equally right courses of action. We do not know what kind of logics compose the lawyer’s reality and we don’t know how they influence the way he or she enacts its role in the world of judiciary. Decoding these unknowns may tell us a lot about ourselves and organizing the ideas of justice, to which I dedicate this research project and all my efforts.

Principal Investigator:

mgr Krzysztof Durczak
PhD Student at Department of Labour and Social Policy
Institute of Socio-Economics