Racialized policing in Winnipeg: a critical discourse analysis of online comments

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Bowness, Evan
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The issue of ‘race’ and policing has generated considerable public controversy. I draw the work of Norman Fairclough in analyzing online public comments responding to three Winnipeg incidents from the summer of 2008: the detainment of Robert Wilson, the inquest into the death of Matthew Dumas and the tasering death of Michael Langan. My main research questions are 1) what characterises these discourses? 2) what processes of social struggle are evident? and 3) what can this tell us about power relations and ideology in society? The analysis of 3342 comments demonstrates power dynamics in discursive struggles over the definition of the relationship between racialized group-members and the police. Specifically, a conservative discursive formation was found to have three interrelated ‘stages’: support for the police, denial of racism and mediating discourses of responsibilization/criminalization. The conclusion considers how a transformative discourse of racialized policing might mitigate prevailing justifications of racial privilege and inequality.
Racialized Discourse, Policing, Critical Discourse Analysis, User-Generated Content