Mcluhan Tetrad Essay

9906 Words May 18th, 2016 40 Pages
Article

Watching the Watchers and McLuhan’s Tetrad:
The Limits of Cop-Watching in the Internet Age

Brian P. Schaefer

Kevin F. Steinmetz

University of Louisville, US. brian.schaefer@louisville.edu Kansas State University, US. criminogenic@outlook.com Abstract
The internet is considered by many to be a boon for political activists, such as cop-watchers—a free, open, and widespread medium in which to disseminate political messages. While there is truth to these claims, the internet, like any technology, can be used for many purposes and comes with its own arrangement of limitations. To elucidate these limitations and to provide a word of caution about the political potential of the internet, particularly for
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Citizen surveillance of police or cop-watching, a process where citizens capture police activities ranging from the mundane (i.e., traffic stops) to the visceral (i.e., beating of handcuffed suspects), is a form of countersurveillance viewed as democratic action capable of raising awareness and empowering individuals to combat police deviance and governance (Monahan 2010; Whitson 2010).
Research on the process of cop-watching primarily emphasizes the techniques used and purpose of reversing the surveillant gaze back towards the state, alluding to the need for democratic change in police practices (Koskela 2011; Mann, Nolan, and Wellman 2003; Monahan 2006, 2010; Whitson 2010).
Attention has also been given to problems oriented around disseminating information gathered from copwatching to a wider audience, a venture which often involves independently owned and operated media
Schaefer, B.P. and K.F. Steinmetz. 2014. Watching the Watchers and McLuhan’s Tetrad: The Limits of
Cop-Watching in the Internet Age. Surveillance & Society 12(4): 502-515. http://www.surveillance-and-society.org| ISSN: 1477-7487
© The author(s), 2014 | Licensed to the Surveillance Studies Network under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license.

Schaefer and Steinmetz: Watching the Watchers and McLuhan’s Tetrad

outlets (Indymedia) or—of particular importance for this analysis—the internet

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