Debating Police Body Worn Cameras: Legitimacy, Surveillance and Power in U.S. Media
AuthorSeeger, Chanin Allen
Committee MemberAdorjan, Michael
Van Brunschot, Erin Gibbs
Criminology and Penology
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AbstractProminent cases of black individuals killed by the police in the United States of America have prompted a firestorm of debate around perceived issues with police brutality and racial discrimination by police. This thesis investigates the discourse on police body-worn cameras through a qualitative content analysis of public rhetoric in the USA between 2012 and 2018. Using the social construction perspective of social problems, this research examines how technological solutions to social problems can themselves become problematized. The data was drawn from both online articles and reader comments attached to those articles from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal websites. The activities of claims-makers, their various positions in these debates and also their tactics in response to competing positions are examined through claims-making about body-worn police cameras. The findings suggest that within the comments sections of online news articles about BWCs, audience members can critically evaluate media messages and articulate their own ideas about the police, power, authority, transparency, accountability, and legitimacy, but still often make use of pre-existing cultural resources. This thesis contributes to knowledge about the role the internet plays in the development of social problem debates, and public beliefs about the role of surveillance and the police in society.
CitationSeeger, C. A. (2020). Debating Police Body Worn Cameras: Legitimacy, Surveillance and Power in U.S. Media (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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