The social control network: Police use of social media and community engagement in a post-panoptic age

A. Hope

University of Adelaide, andrew.hope@adelaide.edu.au

In recent years an increasing number of police authorities have utilised social media, not merely as a source of evidence in ongoing investigations, but also as a way of involving the public in the broader processes of community engagement and policing (Kelly and Finlayson, 2015).  Adopting a sociological post-panoptic (Boyne, 2000) framework this paper explores how the South Australian Police, and other such agencies, use social media to engage with the general public on a daily basis. Drawing upon a discourse analysis of various social media services utilised by the police, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, a typology of use will be developed, before the focus shifts to an exploration of questions of care, control and seductive entertainment in an attempt to understand the competing tensions and rationale for such online activity. Ultimately it is argued that Mathiesen’s (1997) notions of synopticism and the viewer society help to cast a light on the growing police use of social media services.

References

Boyne, R. (2000) ‘Post-Panopticism.’ Economy and Society, 29(2): 285-307.
Kelly, A. and Finlayson, A. (2015) Can Facebook save Neighbourhood Watch? The Police Journal, DOI: 10.1177/0032258X15570557.
Mathiesen, T. (1997) The Viewer Society: Michel Foucault’s “Panopticon” Revisited’, Theoretical Criminology, 1(2): 215–33.>

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