The ‘Battle of Stokes Croft’ on YouTube: The Development of an Ethical Stance for the Study of Online Comments


The UK national media framed the riot in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol on 21 April 2011 as a manifestation of the local campaign against the opening of a Tesco supermarket in Cheltenham Road, an arterial route through the area. New media technologies enabled alternative perspectives on these events to emerge that not only rejected this link but also criticised the ‘heavy-handed’ policing operation in the Telepathic Heights squat to remove petrol bombs that were allegedly being prepared for use against the supermarket. This project set out to examine whether the use of YouTube to share acts of ‘inverse surveillance’ elicited support for the viewpoints of local residents that had been largely absent from the media coverage of the disturbances. This case study will be used to explore the ethical dilemmas that arise from the analysis and presentation of user-generated content in academic publications. The strict ethical stance adopted for this project, which through the decision not to directly quote participants went far beyond conventional approaches towards the removal of personally identifiable information, will be elucidated with a view to identifying best practice for the analysis of YouTube comments.

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