Police, protester, public: unsettling boundaries in the public sphere

Ruiz, Pollyanna (2015) Police, protester, public: unsettling boundaries in the public sphere. In: Savigny, H, Thorsen, E, Jackson, D and Alexander, J (eds.) Media, margins and civic agency. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 195-208. ISBN 9781137512635

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Abstract

The contemporary media landscape is characterized by a fractured unevenness that unsettles the clearly demarcated boundaries, which constituted classical models of the public sphere. Police and protesters are traditionally represented in mainstream news coverage as occupying a binary in which the police are trusted and law-abiding and the protesters are not. Research into the way in which the relationship between police and journalists shapes mainstream representation of ‘violent’ protest has already been undertaken. Similarly the theoretical and actual potential of mobile and digital media to unsettle and challenge these top-down narratives has also been the subject of much academic attention. However, the way in which mainstream representations of the police force in general, and acts of police violence in particular, have impacted upon the demarcation of boundaries between citizens and protesters has yet to be explored.

This chapter examines representation of resistance with particular reference to the legitimating potential of shifting us/them boundaries. It analysis the broadsheet coverage prompted by the death of Ian Tomlinson and argue that the police’s ability to frame protest is being undermined by technological, cultural and structural changes. It concludes by suggesting that these changes are impacting upon the representation of the police in such a way as to unsettle the ‘citizenship line’ (Waddington, 1999, p.61) that exists between protesters and publics.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Music
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0621 Culture
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0661 Social control
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0831 Social change
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Pollyanna Ruiz
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2015 15:00
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2017 17:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/56972

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