Circulating images of the police, between professionals, the mass media and the public

by Michael MEYER – december 2012


Michael MEYER is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Lausanne and associate researcher at the CESDIP. He reports findings from in his thesis in sociology (2011) devoted to an analysis of policing viewed through its interactions with media-shaped social imageries. He takes special interest in the new « media-linked risks » for officers on the streets, including copwatching, as well as in the development of public relations by police departments.


In everyday life, we all experience literary, televised, or motion picture encounters with the police. It is impossible to mention, or analyse, the police as an entity without being assailed by innumerable images, emotions, and media-informed stereotypes. How can we, as sociologists of the police, include this powerful imagery in our analyses ? How can we study this media double, whose influence is so hard to quantify but so easy to observe in the everyday relations of officers with their own professional activity and with the public ?

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