Of Taylor Swift, Referent Power, Jury Duty and Psychological Theories of Social Influence

Author:Nate Russell
Date:August 29, 2016

I don’t know much about Taylor Swift (or TayTay/Swifty/Tayter Tot/T-Swizzle depending on fan-preference), but I take pride that most of what I do know comes from a delightfully small number of sources:

  • My six-year old daughter (more “stream of consciousness fan fiction” than literal news)
  • The Dover Police Department—this YouTube video in particular
  • The ingenious OpenDataTaylorSwift Twitter account (@ts_institute) — light on Taylor Swift data (Tay-lore?), true, but a truly great dig into the Open Data world… see!

There is no open science without Taylor Swift, and open publishing hurts the non-affluent scientists. https://t.co/9ORv1AVPSX

— OpenDataTaylorSwift (@t_s_institute) August 29, 2016

Taylor Swift and contracting can reduce the need for access requests and increase transparency & accountability https://t.co/qkDHcTUaYd

— OpenDataTaylorSwift (@t_s_institute) August 29, 2016

  • The Trial Lawyers Association of BC’s Twitter account (@tla_bc), who unexpectedly made this list this morning by mentioning breaking news out of Nashville, TN from earlier today:

Taylor Swift casually showed up for jury duty, and people freaked out https://t.co/d7Oi5VVZQA via @BI_Entertain

— TLABC (@tla_bc) August 29, 2016

Upon satisfying an initial curiosity about jury pay in Tennessee (a modest $11 per day, it turns out), I turned to consider how super-famous people like T-Swizzle are received as prospective jurors. One comparison is another pop-icon, Madonna, who was dismissed from civic duties in a Manhattan court several years ago. In Madonna’s case the Court’s representative prudently observed that—while it was good optics to have society’s elite come out and show that jury call is for all—the “intent [was not] to create a distraction to other jurors or the business of the court”.

Ultimately, it appears that Taylor was dismissed (Tay-ber tossed?) from the jury this morning during the selection stage. The judge concluded that the celebrity’s own ongoing civil claims of sexual assault in a separate proceeding posed a possible bias in the case at hand, which involves serious criminal charges of a sexual nature.

In any event, it’s fair to say that her presence was a substantial distraction this morning. The Twitterverse erupted with shots of TayTay and her (probably mostly opportunistic) not-so-tweenaged fans:

when your dad has jury duty with taylor swift … pic.twitter.com/9dAqklemiN

— AC Merville (@annaclare15) August 29, 2016

Met @taylorswift13 today at...

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