The Media as a Judicial and Police Resource: Police Courts and the Printed Word in Scotland, C.1800 to 1850

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Abstract

© 2015 The Social History Society. This article examines how media reports of police court trials played an important discursive role in the workings of summary justice and the emergence of the policed society in Scotland in the first half of the nineteenth century. It argues that the dominant messages that trial coverage conveyed were laden with middle-class social and cultural assumptions concerning the accessibility, usefulness and fairness of the courts, and the character and guilt of the accused. Above all, the reports spoke to the intrinsic value of lay magistrates as paternal agents of community conflict resolution and police courts and, more subtly, the police as firm but trustworthy levers of urban discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-410
JournalCultural and Social History
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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