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Препринт

Real Police and Fictional Police: A Study of Public Perceptions through Online Commentaries

Khitrov A.
Contemporary police scholars have argued that it is important to study “how representations of the police and policing are produced and received” (Loader, 1997: 5) and what social meanings are created by them. Police scholars have claimed that police television series produce media images which frame social relations, and social relations, in turn, frame media images (Clarke, 1983, 1992; Lassiter, 1996; Leishman and Mason, 2003: 126, 134–138; Reiner, 2008: 315, 317, 2010: 178). Given that there is no common name for these theoretical assumptions, this paper proposes to use ‘feedback loop theory’ to unite these assumptions into a common framework. In addition to analysing the content of police shows, scholars have recently begun to focus on the stage of production (Colbran, 2014; Lam, 2013) and the stage of reception (Cummins et al., 2014; De Bruin, 2011; Dowler et al., 2006; McClean, 2011). The purpose of this study is to add empirically to reception studies and to test the feedback loop theory by analysing how people discussing fictional police dramas refer to the actual police and police-related issues. I answer these questions by carrying out a content analysis of popular Russian-language internet discussion forums where internet users review Russia’s most famous police show Glukhar’ (2008-2011). The paper shows that this police procedural frames what ordinary citizens and the police chiefs expect from the police, and thus the results of the study illustrate the feedback loop theory.