Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Keith M. Hearit

Second Advisor

Dr. Heather Addison

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Propp

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Building on Hasian's examination of Jurisprudence as performance and Nolan's research of performance in drug courts, this study looks at Small Claims Court as cultural performance through the examination of face-to-face interactions in the courtroom. They are evaluated through the metaphoric lens of Tumer's social drama as well as integrating the legal metaphors of law as grid, energy, and perspective. This study found that the court uses scripts to limit issues and that claimants are rewarded more for following the rules of the court rather than resolving the conflict. Additionally, Small Claims Court exacerbates conflict between low-income tenants and the landlords who rent to them by tacitly sponsoring predatory practices of the landlord. This support tends to disenfranchise poor tenants, especially African Americans. Mediation is suggested as an alternative to court.

Included in

Communication Commons