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Film the Police! Cop‐Watching and Its Embodied Narratives

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Police accountability organizations known as “cop‐watching” groups are proliferating thanks to smartphone penetration and the ease of video sharing on social networks. These groups use digital media technologies to challenge official accounts of events and encroach on the borders of traditional journalism. This qualitative project collected material over the course of 2 years, and uses participant observation and long‐form interviews to explore the nature of this activism. Grounded analysis suggests that cop‐watching represents a unique form of citizenship; one that combines text and practice to produce embodied narratives, which can give voice to the concerns of others. As a form of so‐called sousveillance, cop‐watching extends and complicates existing theories about surveillance, journalism, and visual evidence.
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Keywords: Foucault; activism; ethnography; journalism; narrative; qualitative; video

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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