Reading the body-worn camera as multiple: A reconsideration of entities as enactments

Kate Henne, Jenna Harb

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    This chapter employs insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS) to query common understandings of body-worn cameras (BWCs) and their impact on human behavior. It draws on concepts associated with the ontological turn in STS to explain how BWCs might be thought of as enactments, not entities. By enactment, we mean to suggest that it is a misnomer to assume BWCs are stable or complete objects; rather, they are multiple and emerge through socio-technical collaboration. In other words, BWCs are not things used by human actors to do policing, they do with other actors—such as law enforcement officers, citizens, communities, and other technologies—to constitute policing practices. To explain this ontological reconsideration and illustrate its implications for understandings of BWCs, this chapter examines a situated case study, the 2016 killing of Paul O’Neal, an unarmed 18-year-old Black man, by Chicago police officers who were wearing body-worn cameras. The discussion of this case illuminates the complexity, as well as the multiplicity, of BWCs, their engagement with different actors, and the pursuit of accountability. In doing so, this analysis poses important challenges for research on and debates about BWCs and police reform.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPolice on Camera: Surveillance, Privacy, and Accountability
    Editors Bryce Clayton Newell
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherRoutledge
    Pages46-61
    ISBN (Print)978-1-138-34243-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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