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Off Beat: Police as Protestors and use of Twitter as a Tactical Online Public Space.

Matthews, L. S., 2022. Off Beat: Police as Protestors and use of Twitter as a Tactical Online Public Space. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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MATTHEWS, Louise Suzanne_Ph.D._2023.pdf
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This research examines the use of social media by British police officers to protest, often anonymously, and challenge political influences on policing, which they otherwise could not, through tactical use of social media. It studies British police officers acting as online protestors using Twitter to challenge these influences and decisions, and eventually run online campaigns, during the years of austerity and major police reform under a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. More than 35,000 police officers marched on Parliament in 2012, during a period when Twitter and other social media platforms were emerging as tools in protest movements, from the Arab Spring to Occupy. This study, the first to examine these police officers and their action, proposes them as ‘constrained protestors’ operating in a tactical online public space. It identifies a typology of a niche form of protest, centred on their differing communication strategies and dynamics. It also develops a further typology of police Twitter use, which by including this overlooked group, places different emphasis on previously categorised aspects. Critical case studies, alongside contextual background, were conducted on hashtag campaigns such as #NoConfidenceInTheresaMay and #StopPoliceCutsMay10, and semi-structured interviews were carried out with 17 police protestors. A conceptual framework is derived from those used in previous analysis of protests, especially as applied to those using social media. There is a focus on collective versus connective action; communication dynamics, leadership and organisation; consideration of emotions; and protest spaces, along with elements of counterpublics and the public sphere. Police officers have only featured in protest movement studies as instruments of the state for law and order. Equally, studies on the use of social media by police focus on the organisation’s professional and corporate communications purposes. This research examines them as protestors, finding both commonalities and variances in the theoretical aspects, while also arguing for their relevance in studies on police use of social media. The thesis contributes to the body of knowledge and ongoing debates in the study of protest movements. It also contributes to the growing body of research on police use of social media.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:police; Twitter; social media; protest; digital protest; online protest; social movements
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:40100
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:02 Jul 2024 12:38
Last Modified:02 Jul 2024 12:38


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