Title

Crossing the #thinblueline: Surveillance and Self-Presentation by Police on TikTok

Submitter and Co-author information

Kelsey Fischer, University of windsorFollow

Standing

Undergraduate

Type of Proposal

Poster Presentation

Challenges Theme

Open Challenge

Faculty

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Sponsor

Susan Bryant

Abstract/Description of Original Work

This research project is concerned with the large community of police officers actively creating content on the emerging social media platform of TikTok, which is a short-form video sharing social media platform. This proliferation of traditional figures of authority into the civilian sphere of social media presents an opportunity to examine how this police-created content consciously influences civilian perspectives on policing, as well as how police officers characterize themselves within these short narratives. Furthermore, the large contingent of visible police officers on TikTok has implications for surveillance practices and expectations on social media. The project’s research question will examine how police presence on TikTok may contribute to the complexity of surveillance relationships. Drawing from a sample of videos from the popular police-related hashtag #thinblueline, this project will engage in a multi-level Critical Discourse Analysis of the video content, the accompanying caption and a sample of the comments. This methodology has been adapted from Walkington et al. (2019)’s study of police-created Facebook content as a site of identity creation. Each video will be assessed using elements of CDA on three levels related to intended message in relation to policing, positioning of the content creator within this narrative, and how the content creator positions themselves within larger surveillance discourse. The analysis will also draw upon Michel Foucault’s concepts of panopticism and governmentality, as well as Erving Goffman’s presentation of self. The project aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of how social media narratives contribute to relationships of authority and surveillance through an emerging platform like TikTok.

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Crossing the #thinblueline: Surveillance and Self-Presentation by Police on TikTok

This research project is concerned with the large community of police officers actively creating content on the emerging social media platform of TikTok, which is a short-form video sharing social media platform. This proliferation of traditional figures of authority into the civilian sphere of social media presents an opportunity to examine how this police-created content consciously influences civilian perspectives on policing, as well as how police officers characterize themselves within these short narratives. Furthermore, the large contingent of visible police officers on TikTok has implications for surveillance practices and expectations on social media. The project’s research question will examine how police presence on TikTok may contribute to the complexity of surveillance relationships. Drawing from a sample of videos from the popular police-related hashtag #thinblueline, this project will engage in a multi-level Critical Discourse Analysis of the video content, the accompanying caption and a sample of the comments. This methodology has been adapted from Walkington et al. (2019)’s study of police-created Facebook content as a site of identity creation. Each video will be assessed using elements of CDA on three levels related to intended message in relation to policing, positioning of the content creator within this narrative, and how the content creator positions themselves within larger surveillance discourse. The analysis will also draw upon Michel Foucault’s concepts of panopticism and governmentality, as well as Erving Goffman’s presentation of self. The project aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of how social media narratives contribute to relationships of authority and surveillance through an emerging platform like TikTok.