‘A police officer shot a Black man’: Racial categorization, racism, and mundane culpability in news reports of police shootings of black people in the United States of America

N. Shrikant, R. Sambaraju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The current socio-political circumstances in the United States (US), constituted by theincreasing visibility of police shootings of Black people, present a compelling moment foranalysing how news media report about law enforcement, culpability, and racism. Thispaper conducts a membership categorization analysis of recent news media reports ofpolice shootings of Black people (May 2020–October 2020) and investigates how newsmedia negotiate culpability of agents involved these shootings. Findings illustrate hownews reports (1) usethe repeatedcategory formulation ‘police shootingof aBlack man’toimply police are culpable for engaging in racist shootings, (2) upgrade culpability of policeofficers through adding to racial categorization of victims in ways that foreground victims’moral character (e.g., ‘unarmed Black man’), and (3) highlight racism as an explanation forshootings and culpability of police through using racial categorizations for police officers.Overall, news media reports use racial categories as a resource to construct racism as anexplanation for police shootings and to construct police officers and policing institutionsas culpable for these shootings. Thus, we highlight how race and racism are constitutive of,and inseparable from, culpability in news media reports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1196-1217
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume60
Issue number4
Early online date5 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • membership categorization analysis
  • police shootings
  • race categories
  • racism
  • US

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '‘A police officer shot a Black man’: Racial categorization, racism, and mundane culpability in news reports of police shootings of black people in the United States of America'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this