African American Studies 241 OPEN SEATS + Health and Crisis Resources


The Analysis of Video Data: Police Encounters with the Public
AAS 241
Spring 2018

Nikki Jones                                                                                                      

Objective: The objective of this course is to provide intensive, “hands-on” training in the analysis of recorded interactions involving police officers and the public. Towards this end, the course offers a research-focused introduction to methods for analyzing recorded interactions, using video recordings collected by/with law enforcement and bystanders. The course will focus in particular, on methods for identifying the significance of race, gender, age and/or other categorical variables in video recorded interaction. The course will also introduce students the process of inductive analysis (i.e., grounded theory). The course begins with an introduction to available recordings (publicly available and those housed in Professor Jones’ research lab). The remainder of the course will focus on two related activities: (1) Developing a range of complementary methods for analyzing video recording of interactions (and the analytic skills these methods depend on) and (2) refining the use of these methods in the course of developing your own research project (see details below). 

Specifically, students will learn to (1) identify, collect and describe a video collection, (2) analyze one such collection and develop some preliminary finding from it and (3) present findings in a 20 minute oral report and a written report.

Course Project Report
A central aim of this course is to develop research projects that students can develop into high-quality papers (for presentation or publication). I will work closely with you on these projects during the course – and after (if you wish to continue developing them for publication). To facilitate this objective, students will prepare a “Research Project Prospectus” based on a research theme developed in the first part of the course. The Prospectus will be presented to the seminar in April and submitted as a written report at the end of the term.

Readings: I will supply basic a set of readings via bCourses. Additional readings assigned on a project-by-project basis.

Course Grades will be based on a series of exercises, weighted as follows:

Developing a research project            20%
Working with Collections                   20%
Presenting Data Layout (in class)       30%
Research Report                                  30%

Course Overview:

January 22nd    Introduction and Expectations
We will review the syllabus and discuss expectations for the semester. We will also review/discuss existing data collections and student research interests.

See here for an introduction to CA transcription annotation:

**Assignment: Complete IRB Protocol by January 29th class.**

Reading: Nikki Jones and Geoffrey Raymond (2012) “The Camera Rolls”: Using Third-Party Video in Field Research

January 29th    Analyzing Interaction: An Introduction
What do we mean by “interaction”? What are some basic features of interaction? How do we analyze interaction using video recordings? What does it mean to use video as an analytic resource for the study of interaction? 

Goffman, Erving. “The Interaction Order” American Sociological Association Presidential Address (1982)

Jooyoung Lee (2009) “Escaping Embarrassment: Face Work in the Rap Cipher” Social Psychology Quarterly. 72: 306 – 324

Data Session: ______________________________

February 5       Cops on Camera
What can we learn from video recordings of police encounters with the public? How does perspective matter in the construction, analysis and representation of video data?

Charles Goodwin, “Professional Vision” American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 96, No. 3 (Sep., 1994), pp. 606-633

Forrest Stuart, “Constructing Police Abuse after Rodney King: How Skid Row Residents and the Los Angeles Police Department Contest Video Evidence” Law & Social Inquiry Volume 36, Issue 2, 327–353, Spring 2011

            Data Session: ______________________________

February 12     Police Work: An Interactional Analysis
We will examine some basic features of police encounters with the public. We will discuss of phases of police-civilian encounters and when/how trouble emerges.

Peter Moskos (2008) Chapter 6: Under Arrest: Discretion in the Ghetto (pp. 111-120; 142-157)

William Terrill & Stephen D. Mastrofski (2002) Situational and officer-based determinants of police coercion, Justice Quarterly, 19:2, 215-248

Data Session: ______________________________

February 19     Building a Collection
We will discuss how to build a collection, including how to identify criteria for inclusion, variation and the search for negative cases. Each student will bring in sample phenomena to discuss during class.

February 26th             **No Class – Submit description of collection to bCourses.

March 5           Race and Provisional Status in Police Encounters
We will use Anderson’s concept of “provisional status” to consider when/how race and other categorical variables emergs as consequential in police encounters with Black civilians.

            Elijah Anderson “The Iconic Ghetto” ANNALS, AAPSS, 642, July, 2012

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Andrea J. Ritchie with Rachel Anspach, Rachel Gilmer and Luke Harris (2015) #SayHerName: Resisting Police Violence Against Black Women, African American Policy Forum

            Data Session: ______________________________

March 12         Suspicion
We will discuss the role that suspicion plays in police work. We will consider how race shapes the construction of suspicion in police encounters with the public and the consequence of targeted policing practices for civilians.

Tom Tyler, et al. “The Consequences of Being an Object of Suspicion: Potential Pitfalls of Proactive Police Contact” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies June 2015

The National Academy Press (2017) “Chapter 8: Conclusions and Implications for Policy Research” in Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Community

Data Session: ______________________________

March 19         The Use of Force
How is the use of force related to the management of authority? When is compliance voluntary and when is it coerced? We will discuss contemporary work on officer use of force with a consideration of how intersections of race, gender and space shape these interactions.

James P. McElvain, 2009 Chapter 2: Understanding Police Use of Force in Police shootings and citizen behavior [eresources]

Paul Butler, 2016, “The System is Working the Way it is Supposed to: The Failures of Criminal Justice Reform” The Georgetown Law Journal Vol 104:1419

Data Session: ______________________________

March 26  **Spring Break***

April 2             Handling Civilian Complaints in a High-Surveillance Neighborhood
What do people complain about during police encounters? How do officers handle these complaints (e.g., as resistance or as an opportunity to enact procedural justice)? We will examine cases of how officers interact with civilians in a high surveillance neighborhood.

Monica Bell, “Police Reform and the Dismantling of Legal Estrangement” Yale Law Journal 2017

April 9             Workshop: Presenting Data Layout (of your in in-progress project for feedback)

April 16           Student Presentations

April 30           Student Presentations (if needed) and final thoughts

Final Reports Due: May 11th, 2018

Weekly Meetings

1.     For weeks in which we will introduce new data students should familiarize themselves with the portion of the data to be examined prior to the class session. Spend at least 30 minutes with the target portion before each class. This will help you to analyze the data when we meet. We will announce when we would like you to do this.

2.     In making excerpts, or collections of them, select a short clip from the common data pool that exemplifies or illuminates the theme or phenomenon you investigating. Submit the name of the clip and a short commentary (of less than a page) to Professor Jones by Friday at 3 PM. The brief write-up should include observations about the instance you have collected and question it raises about the phenomena/theme you are analyzing. Be prepared to discuss both during the seminar. Then in the week(s) following each discussion, collect a few more clips inspired by the discussion (forming small collections you can introduce for group analysis).

3.     For April workshop: prepare one or two of your clip collections (with at least 4 instances for each collection) along with a short commentary regarding the collection for class analysis.  Submit the clips and the commentaries to Professor Jones by Friday at 3PM before your scheduled worshop/presentation. Each commentary should begin with observations about individual clips in the collection, and end with a set of “non-case particular” observations about the collection as a whole. Be prepared to discuss your observations during the seminar.

Note on self-care: We will view and discuss some difficult material in this course, including acts of police violence. For some students, reading and discussing the course material may bring up difficult or traumatic experiences from the distant or recent past. Some of you may experience traumatic experiences during the semester. As a UC Berkeley student, there are a number of resources available to help you maintain your health and wellbeing and to assist you in a crisis situation. If you are experiencing distress, please know that you have access to counseling services on campus, including urgent response counseling.

University Health Services Tang Center 
2222 Bancroft Way #4300 
Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone: (510) 642-9494
Hours:  Monday-Wednesday: 8am-5:30pm; Thursday: 9am-5:30pm; and Friday: 8am-5pm
Crisis drop-in: Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm
Students do not need to have purchased the Student Health Insurance Plan to see a counselor. Initial phone and in-person consultations, urgent visits, and initial counseling visits (up to 5th session) are all free. Minimal fees apply to other services.
If you have an urgent medical or mental health problem that cannot wait until the Tang Center is open:
        Call the After Hours Counseling Line at (855) 817-5667.
        Find a local Urgent Care Center with extended hours. (For a list of centers go to:
        Find a phone number for a crisis/suicide prevention hotline. (
        See After Hours Assistance resources for information on emergency contraception, dental emergency, pharmacy refills and other services when Tang Center is closed.
        Find a local emergency room. The closest to campus is Alta Bates Hospital, 2450 Ashby Ave., just east of Telegraph Ave.
        Crisis Text Line: Crisis Text Line (link is external) is free, 24/7 emotional support for those in crisis via text messaging.
For a list of self-help resources go to:
If you are experiencing difficulty with the course material for any reason, please make an appointment to see me during office hours or email me directly at