The police, social media, and bureaucratic resistance
Keywords:synopticon, surveillance, prudentialism, police, social network sites
This paper examines police officer perceptions of risk when using (often official police) social media sites. We argue that for police it is not the ‘few observing the many’ model of panoptic surveillance that matters most; rather, it is the synoptic gaze of the ‘many observing the few’ that matters most. We propose a new concept, that of synoptic prudentialism, which we argue involves an individual’s or organization’s reflexive actions and adjustments in response to an acute awareness of ubiquitous social surveillance. Interviews with officers serving in rural areas of an Atlantic Canadian province reveal expressions of vulnerability in relation to potentially antagonist audiences online. Also, from the perspective of front-line officers who express a desire to use social media more informally to connect with online audiences, bureaucratic procedures and other formal regulations governing official police social media use constrains the potential to harness the synoptic gaze in productive ways.
Copyright (c) 2021 Michael Charles Adorjan, Rosemary Ricciardelli
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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