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The role of mass media and police communication in trust in the police: new approaches to the analysis of survey and media data

Hohl, Katrin (2011) The role of mass media and police communication in trust in the police: new approaches to the analysis of survey and media data. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

The thesis contributes to the literature on public opinion of and trust in the police. The theoretical framework is based on Tyler’s procedural justice theory adapted to the British context. Procedural justice theory postulates that legitimacy and trust are largely based on perceptions of procedural fairness – believing that the police treat citizens with fairness and respect and that citizen’s views are heard and taken into account. The focus of the thesis is on the role of the mass media and police communication in shaping such perceptions, public trust, and other related aspects of public opinion of the police. The thesis contributes new empirical evidence of theoretical and practical significance with three empirical studies. The first study tests a series of hypotheses about media effects on public opinion. It combines a comprehensive content analysis of newspaper reporting on policing in five major British newspapers from 2007 to 2010 with public opinion data from a large-scale population representative survey fielded continuously over the same three-year period. The second study is a ‘real-world’ quasi-randomised experiment testing the impact of local police newsletters on public trust in the police in seven neighbourhoods in London. The third study examines the role of perceptions of information provision in public trust in the police more closely based on the survey data from the first study. The findings suggest that media and police messages about how the police conduct themselves towards individual citizens as well as towards the community at large have a bigger effect on public trust than messages about the effectiveness of the police in carrying out their duties. Overall, press reporting has a small effect on public trust in the police. Police communication can enhance public trust in the police and is important in particular for those who have least trust in the police.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Katrin Hohl
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Supervisor: Gaskell, George and Kuha, Jouni
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/213

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