Police as television viewers and policing practitioners

Antony Stephenson

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This article discusses police practice as performance influenced by the construction of policing through cop shows, a term encompassing television drama and reality television programs featuring police. It draws on theoretical approaches relevant to police representations in the media and police attitudes. The article explores the intersection of these two institutions ' the police and television ' whose influence on the ideological construction of society is both pervasive and powerful. Investigating police officers' attitudes to their representation on television, brings to the study a third dimension to that intersection; how the image of police as constructed through television is received by those who are the abstracted model for their televised doubles, yet are also consumers of television. As consumers they view the tropes of the mediated image of police knowing that the public and their colleagues do so too, perhaps shaping their own performance accordingly and bringing into question the direction of influence in police image making and television production. Previous studies exploring police officer attitudes to police in cop shows expose a tendency to focus on and criticise inaccuracies relating to procedure and technologies. Further research on this topic could delve deeper into exploring how this translates to police officers' understanding of television's role in legitimating the police to its wider audience, while also providing a model of policing for the police themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalFusion Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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