Cops and Bloggers: Exploring the presence of police culture on the web
The presence and impact of ‘police culture’ has been scrutinized both on the streets (Sherman, 1980; Smith and Gray, 1983; Reiner, 1985; Chan, 1997; Loftus 2010) and in the confines of the police canteen (Waddington, 1999). The traits of conservatism, suspicion, cynicism, sense of mission, machismo and pragmatism (Reiner, 1985) among police officers are widely acknowledged, but still there are debates as to the impact such traits may have on operational policing. More recently, media representations of policing have also been examined in the context of police culture, specifically in relation to fictional depictions which compare the British police past and present (Garland and Bilby, 2011). Police culture has been cited as an organizational influence which impedes reform (Loftus, 2010) but caution over its impact on behaviour has been noted, in relation to the distinction between patrol officers and those in management positions (Chan, 1997). The internet can be an important tool for researching distinct populations (Hine, 2000) and this paper explores one such population, namely commentators (presenting themselves as police officers) on policing themed computer-mediated-communications, or ‘blogs.’ Such blogs may present a forum in which ‘cop culture’ as it is understood is widely expressed, possibly due to a key feature being anonymity and freedom of expression. Whilst acknowledging issues of authenticity, the continuing presence of police culture characteristics within these blogs again raises questions about the impact they may have on operational policing, or whether such forums must be viewed as an important outlet for serving officers.
Citation:Atherton, S (2012) Cops and Bloggers: Exploring the Presence of Police Culture on the Web, Internet Journal of Criminology
Research Group:Community & Criminal Justice Research