Source: (2012) Journal of Business and Technical Communication 26(4) 442-478

Despite the legal and social ramifications of presentence investigation reports, little is known about them outside the legal community. The author uses the frameworks of genre theory and activity systems to analyze the documents, the criminal justice system’s ideology of sentencing, and the statutes and regulations that govern the reports. What emerges is an ambiguous and contradictory genre at odds with the philosophy of individualized justice underpinning its origins, a genre that has eschewed narrative for the sake of objectivity. The article further underscores the value of employing a flexible theoretical framework when studying workplace genres.