School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    The disposition of the destitute
    Arnold, M ; Nansen, B ; Kohn, T ; Gibbs, M ; Gould, H (Council to Homeless Persons, 2019)
    The final disposition is a term used by people in the funeral industry to refer to the burial or cremation of a dead person. The final disposition is a profoundly important event, not simply a pragmatic or material process, and its significance is expressed through ritualised performances. The disposition and its rituals are shared and communal, involving ceremonies attended by the deceased’s family, friends, and community, whilst less indirectly the disposition is shared by wider social norms and values around the proper treatment of the deceased body. Although the disposition is common to us all, then, it is also a personalised event in which the particularity of the life lived is recognised. Similarly, the place of interment, whether body or ashes, is named and marked to recognise the individual life of the deceased. Places of interment are thus not only identified, but are also accessible to family, friends and community, for the purpose of ongoing visitation and remembrance.
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    ‘Death by Twitter’: Understanding false death announcements on social media and the performance of platform cultural capital
    Nansen, B ; O'Donnell, D ; Arnold, M ; Kohn, T ; Gibbs, M (University of Illinois Libraries, 2019)
    In this paper, we analyse false death announcements of public figures on social media and public responses to them. The analysis draws from a range of public sources to collect and categorise the volume of false death announcements on Twitter and undertakes a case study analysis of representative examples. We classify false death announcements according to five overarching types: accidental; misreported; misunderstood; hacked; and hoaxed. We identify patterns of user responses, which cycle through the sharing of the news, to personal grief, to a sense of uncertainty or disbelief. But we also identify more critical and cultural responses to such death announcements in relation to misinformation and the quality of digital news, or cultures of hoax and disinformation on social media. Here we see the performance of online identity through a form that we describe, following Bourdieu as ‘platform cultural capital’.
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    Diversion Ahead? Change Is Needed but That Doesn’t Mean That Basic Income Is the Answer
    Bowman, D ; Mallett, S ; Cooney-O'Donoghue, D ; Klein, E ; Mays, J ; Dunlop, T (Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019)
    Using an expanded version of De Wispelaere and Stirton’s 2004 framework for assessing basic income policies, we examine selected past and recent trials. The trials have all produced inconclusive results, in part because of the political contexts in which they have been implemented. As a result, they do little to progress policy reforms to address the challenges of economic insecurities and inequalities. Basic income proposals can act as beacons for change, but because they often lack detail, they risk distracting attention from the challenges and opportunities for social security reform. Our expanded framework enables detailed assessment of the dimensions of proposals for change. It also enables the identification of the elements of basic income proposals that can be incorporated into progressive efforts to reclaim social security.
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    A field experiment on community policing and police legitimacy.
    Peyton, K ; Sierra-Arévalo, M ; Rand, DG (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019-10-01)
    Despite decades of declining crime rates, longstanding tensions between police and the public continue to frustrate the formation of cooperative relationships necessary for the function of the police and the provision of public safety. In response, policy makers continue to promote community-oriented policing (COP) and its emphasis on positive, nonenforcement contact with the public as an effective strategy for enhancing public trust and police legitimacy. Prior research designs, however, have not leveraged the random assignment of police-public contact to identify the causal effect of such interactions on individual-level attitudes toward the police. Therefore, the question remains: Do positive, nonenforcement interactions with uniformed patrol officers actually cause meaningful improvements in attitudes toward the police? Here, we report on a randomized field experiment conducted in New Haven, CT, that sheds light on this question and identifies the individual-level consequences of positive, nonenforcement contact between police and the public. Findings indicate that a single instance of positive contact with a uniformed police officer can substantially improve public attitudes toward police, including legitimacy and willingness to cooperate. These effects persisted for up to 21 d and were not limited to individuals inclined to trust and cooperate with the police prior to the intervention. This study demonstrates that positive nonenforcement contact can improve public attitudes toward police and suggests that police departments would benefit from an increased focus on strategies that promote positive police-public interactions.
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    Sending a message: The Australian's reporting of media policy
    Young, S (SAGE, 2015-11-01)
    As Australia's only national general newspaper, with an elite ‘political class’ audience, The Australian has been at the forefront of newspaper proprietors' attempts to influence media policy. This article analyses The Australian's reporting of two key media policy proposals affecting newspapers: the establishment of the Australian Press Council in 1975–76 and the Independent Inquiry into Media and Media Regulation (the Finkelstein inquiry) in 2012–13. While the events were 36 years apart, the paper's stance and rhetoric were remarkably similar. However, its approach to journalism and to providing information to its audience changed in several important respects.
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    News Corporation Tabloids and Press Photography During the 2013 Australian Federal Election
    Young, S (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2017)
    Academic attention has often been focused upon analysing words in journalism texts and, consequently, the impact of photographs in newspaper journalism has tended to be overlooked. This is problematic because images are a key method by which news is selected, framed and communicated, particularly in tabloid newspapers. This article focuses upon criticisms that tabloids from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Australia were biased—against the Kevin Rudd-led Labor government and towards Tony Abbott’s conservative Liberal–National Coalition—during the 2013 federal election in Australia. Through an analysis of front pages, this article explores how photographs contributed to reporting the campaign and expressing the strong political preferences of News Corporation. The article concludes that Murdoch’s Australian tabloids shifted towards a British-style overt partisanship in their reporting of the 2013 election. Images were at the forefront of that shift as they are a powerful tool for conveying messages of newspaper support and opposition, and occupy a central place in how political issues, events and individuals are represented and understood.
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    Press Photography and Visual Censorship in the Australian Parliament
    Young, S (WILEY, 2018-03-01)
    Still photography is an important medium for visually communicating — and scrutinising — the power of elected representatives. However, it has been severely restricted by parliaments. Surprisingly, the photographs taken by press photographers have been viewed as a larger threat to parliamentary dignity than other seemingly more powerful media, such as television. This article analyses parliaments’ “extraordinary sensitivity to photography” by conducting a comparative, historical examination of press photography in five national parliaments — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The article discusses historical milestones in media access for each of these parliaments, but focuses particularly upon the unusual case of the Australian Parliament and its rules on still photography. The author draws upon interviews conducted with Australian press photographers, as well as an analysis of primary material — including parliamentary guidelines on media access, photographs, newspaper reports, parliamentary debates, inquiry reports and submissions.
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    "Adapt or Die": The funeral trade show as a site of institutional anxiety
    Van Ryn, L ; Nansen, B ; Gibbs, M ; Kohn, T ; Gibbs, M ; Nansen, B ; van Ryn, L (Routledge, 2019-06-11)
    Funeral directors shot themselves in the foot over cremation, and cemeteries got splattered with the blood.
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    THE AFTERLIVES OF MEMORIAL MATERIALS: DATA, HOAX, BOT
    Nansen, B ; Hjorth, L ; Pitsillides, S ; Gould, H (University of Illinois Libraries, 2019)
    The study of death online has often intersected with questions of trust, though such questions have evolved over time to not only include relations of trust between individuals and within online communities, but also issues of trust emerging through entanglements and interactions with the afterlives of memorial materials. Papers in this panel attend to the growing significance of the afterlives of digital data, the circulation of fake deaths, the care attached to memorial bots, and the intersection of robots and funerals. Over the last twenty years the study of death online developed into a diverse field of enquiry. Early literature addressed the emergence of webpages created as online memorials and focused on their function to commemorate individuals by extending memorial artefacts from physical to digital spaces for the bereaved to gather (De Vries and Rutherford, 2004; Roberts, 2004; Roberts and Vidal, 2000; Veale, 2004). The emergence of platforms for social networking in the mid-2000s broadened the scope of research to include increasingly knotted questions around the ethics, politics and economics of death online. Scholars began investigating issues like the performance of public mourning, our obligations to and management of the digital remains of the deceased, the affordances of platforms for sharing or trolling the dead, the extraction of value from the data of the deceased, and the ontology of entities that digitally persist (e.g. Brubaker and Callison-Burch, 2016; Gibbs et al., 2015; Karppi, 2013; Marwick and Ellison, 2012; Phillips, 2011; Stokes, 2012). Scaffolding this scholarship are a number of research networks, including the Death Online Research Network and the DeathTech Research Network, who encourage international collaboration and conversation around the study of death and digital media, including supporting this AoIR panel. This panel contributes to the growing field of research on death and digital media, and in particular poses challenges to focus on the commemoration of humans to encompass broader issues around the data and materiality of digital death. Digital residues of the deceased persist within and circulate through online spaces, enrolling users into new configurations of posthumous dependence on platforms, whilst at the same time digital afterlives now intersect with new technologies to create emergent forms of agency such as chatbots and robots that extend beyond the human, demanding to be considered within the sphere of digital memorialisation. Questions of trust emerge in this panel through various kinds of relationality formed with and through digital remains. These extend from relations of trust in the digital legacies now archived within platform architectures and how we might curate conversations differently around our personal data; to the breaking of trust in the internet when creating or sharing a hoax death; to the trust involved in making and caring for a posthumous bot; to the trust granted to robots to perform funerary rites. It is anticipated that this panel will not only appeal to scholars interested in the area of death and digital media, but also engage with broader scholarly communities in which questions of death now arise in larger debates around data, materiality, and governance on and of the internet. References Brubaker, J. R. and Callison-Burch, V. (2016) Legacy Contact: Designing and Implementing Post-mortem Stewardship at Facebook. Paper presented at CHI Workshop on Human Factors in Computer Systems, San Jose California. de Vries, B. and Rutherford, J. (2004) Memorializing Loved Ones on the World Wide Web. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 49(1), 5-26. Gibbs, M., Meese, J., Arnold, M., Nansen, B., and Carter, M. (2015) #Funeral and Instagram: Death, Social Media and Platform Vernacular. Information Communication and Society, 18(3): 255-268. Karppi, T. (2013) Death proof: on the biopolitics and noopolitics of memorializing dead Facebook users. Culture Machine, 14, 1-20. Marwick, A. and Ellison, N. (2012) “There Isn’t Wifi in Heaven!” Negotiating Visibility on Facebook Memorial Pages. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 56(3), 378–400. Phillips, W. (2011) LOLing at Tragedy: Facebook Trolls, Memorial Pages and Resistance to Grief Online. First Monday 16(12). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org Roberts, P. (2004) The Living and the Dead: Community in the Virtual Cemetery. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 49(1), 57-76. Stokes, P. (2012) Ghosts in the Machine: Do the Dead Live on in Facebook? Philosophy and Technology, 25(3), 363-379. Veale, K. (2004) Online Memorialisation: The Web as a Collective Memorial Landscape For Remembering The Dead. The Fibreculture Journal, 3. Retrieved from http://three.fibreculturejournal.org  
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    [Review of the book Is the American Century Over? by J.S. Nye Jr.]
    Lynch, TJ (Cambridge University Press, 2016-08-01)