Statements on a cold case: a discourse analysis of focus groups on large-scale DNA familial searching

Annette Klarenbeek

Research output: Book/ReportReportAcademic


In this case study, we want to gain insight into how residents of three municipalities communicate about the new murder scenario of the cold case of Marianne Vaatstra and the possibility of a large-scale DNA familial searching. We investigate how stakeholders shape their arguments in conversation with each other and with the police. We analyze the statements that participants use to achieve certain effects in their interactions with others in three focus groups. The results show that the analyzed statements are strong normative orientated. We see two aspects emerge that affect the support for large-scale DNA familial searching. These are: 1. Cautious formulations: respondents showed restraint in making personal judgments and often formulated these on behalf of others. Participants would not fully express themselves, but adjusted to what seemed the socially desirable course. 2. Collective identity: respondents focused on the similarities between themselves and the needs, interests, and goals of other participants. Participants also tried in a discursive way to convince each other to participate in the large-scale familial searching. These two major discursive activities offered the communication discipline guidance for interventions into the subsequent communication strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • safety
  • crisis communication
  • discours analysis
  • social interaction
  • dna familial searching
  • focus groups
  • participation


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