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Subterranean Processes in the Maintenance of Power: An Examination of the Mechanisms Coordinating police Action

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Abstract

This paper begins with the observation that the legal system in liberal democracies, despite its egalitarian ideals, is used as resource in political conflict to maintain structures of dominance. It then draws attention to the theoretical requirement to identify the specific mechanisms that provide for this persistent and systematic institutional hypocrisy. Within this theoretical context, the police subculture is identified as a lay social theory which serves to direct working policemen in their selection of candidates for criminalization and in their use of the law to initiate this process. Both the critical features of the police subculture and its relationship to the social structures within which police operate are considered.
... In this materialist analysis, the police support the systematic deprivation of goods and services in particular sections of society (see, for example, Brogden, 1982;Hall et al., 1979;Quinney, 1977;Shearing, 1981;Storch, 1975;Wacquant, 2009). • • Deprivation of autonomy: police deprive individuals and groups of autonomy through the tactic of stop-and-search. ...
... Elaborating on where these thresholds of acceptability and unacceptability are has not been a strong suit of police studies. Research focuses on the unacceptable: condemning; pillorying; exposing; and exploring the process of police 'brutality' and degrading treatment (see, inter alia, Choongh, 1998;Punch, 2009;Shearing, 1981;Wacquant, 2009;Worden, 1996). And rightfully so. ...
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This article argues that police studies should draw on the sociology of punishment to better understand state pain-delivery. Whereas penal theorists commonly assess the pain and punishment of inmates in relation to wider social sentiments, police theory has yet to regard police violence and harm in the same fashion. As a result, police scholars often fail to address why the damage caused by public constabularies, even when widely publicized, is accommodated and accepted. Adapting the idea of ‘punitiveness’ from penal theory allows some explanation of how the public views injury and suffering caused by the police by illuminating the emotions and sentiments their actions generate.
... The stubborn persistence of racism within the police service has been attributed to a deeply ingrained and persistent distinct occupational culture. As argued by Shearing (1981), the values embedded in the police culture act as subterranean processes in the maintenance of power. Cop culture literature is grounded in Skolnick's (1966) work on the police personality, which develops as a response to both danger and authority in the nature of police work and a pressure to get results. ...
Chapter
This chapter utilises the findings to show the contemporary relevance of the research framework for the broader, international context. ‘By situating Critical Race Theory within the context of Criminological research, it makes a case for a Critical Race Theory of policing. Reasserting the counter story that emerges from the key findings, it emphasises the utility of the counter story as a tool to challenge dominant police narratives of race and policing. In adopting one of the key tenets of Critical Race Theory, the centering of race in research, the chapter argues that both individual and institutional forms of racism must be understood in the context of a global political system premised on ‘White supremacy’ (Mills 1997). Through research participants voices it considers some suggestions for improving Black and Black mixed-race people’s experiences of policing. Further, it identifies the potential for this research to inform future knowledge production through Critical Race Theory research. In concluding, this chapter challenges those within and outside of the police institution, to accept the inevitability of racism within a racially predicated society, rather than engaging in strategies of denial. It asserts that this is the only way to truly challenge the longevity of racism within the institution.
... What emerged were at least two such publics: the ones police serve and the ones they regulate. Clifford's rich empirical work was important in elucidating the subterranean character of police culture and both its link to and independence from the legal system or superstructure (Shearing, 1980). Although police are powerful actors due to their legitimate access to coercion and legal authority (Shearing & Leon, 1977), they are not simply unthinking instruments of the state. ...
Article
Clifford Shearing’s pioneering scholarship on policing has been driven by his quest to understand the nature of power and the ways in which human beings both reflect and reify its modalities. Connecting his works are concerns about altering power relations such that they enhance the self-direction of poor and vulnerable populations. The question of what are we not seeing that we should – the invisible that is overlooked – has also been pivotal throughout Clifford’s career. He has advanced the field by expanding the focus of criminology to practices of social ordering beyond government institutions and to non-state institutions that scholars have commonly refused to acknowledge. Beyond his ground-breaking work on policing cultures, Clifford’s concepts of “nodal policing” and the “governance of security” are now part of the lexicon in a growing body of explanatory and normative work on developments across the world and at different geographies of analysis.
... To what extent may police attitudes have the effect of subverting legislative aims? Clifford Shearing argued long ago that the use of police discretion is dependent upon the officer involved or situational variables (such as offence characteristics), or both (Shearing, 1981). This extends also to the decision to prosecute (Feuerverger & Shearing, 1982). ...
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Although police exercise wide discretionary powers when carrying out their general patrol duties, it is with respect to young people that these powers are the most extensive. The present research examines some of the factors that influence the use of police discretionary powers with young offenders. Over 220 sworn police officers from New South Wales Police responded to written surveys about the way in which they routinely dealt with, or planned to deal with, four offences commonly committed by juvenile offenders. Results show that police behaviour towards the same offending may vary greatly, particularly in relation to minor offences. This is not particularly surprising, given the plethora of discretionary and diversionary options that have been introduced into Australian juvenile justice and policing legislation in the last decade. The purpose of giving these options was to provide police with greater scope to accommodate individual differences in offenders. An unintended consequence of this change, however, has been greater unpredictability of outcome. Given that there is a broad range of police officer typologies as well, a young person's experience with the law, especially in relation to minor offending, is becoming more ‘lottery’-like.
... This similarity is interesting as the styles of policing that appeared in the present research also seem comparable to Muir"s (1977) typology. Several other researchers have found a typology of police officers that resembles the types that Reiner (2000) detected (Broderick 1977, Brown 1981, Shearing 1981, Walsh 1977, supporting the validity of this typology. Wilson (1993) and Wilson and Braithwaite (1996) appear to be the only researchers who have investigated police officers" conflict resolution tactics specifically. ...
Article
The issue of whether police officers possess certain personality characteristics that make them unique has been the subject of an extensive line of research. Several researchers have found evidence of a ‘police personality’, while other researchers have failed to detect personality differences between the police and the public. Making the picture even more complex, some researchers have found that officers differ from each other in terms of job performance, and that actual personality differences predict such variations. This study therefore examines personality differences between the police and the public by using the Big Five taxonomy of personality. It also explores differences in officers' job performance, using preferences for ways of resolving conflict situations as the job performance criterion. The study found support for the existence of a police personality. It also found differences in terms of preferences for conflict resolution tactics. Personality was only weakly related to such differences.
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This essay was completed in early April 2020 and begun during the first week of the official pandemic panic in Canada. The world-wide plague caused by the COVID-19 virus precipitated the first global police event presenting an occasion for researchers and scholars to apply existing theory and empirical understanding to extra-ordinary circumstances. Consideration of the politics of the police during the plague reveals a tectonic shift in the world system. The transnational and comparative study of police and policing reveals the contours of the emerging system of world power all the more clearly in a moment of crisis. The pandemic panic presents an historical moment during which, figuratively speaking, policing power crystalizes and can be seen clearly. On the global stage, in response to the pandemic panic authoritarian and totalitarian policing practices are demonstrated alongside those in putative democracies. Emerging and observable practices of rule by law are antithetical to democratic policing in the general social interest, and rule of law rhetoric justifying militarized law enforcement action in many places continues to bring police into further disrepute. The coming era will continue to be a time where, in most places “the strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must”—as the ancient historian Thucydides observed in the aftermath of the fratricidal Peloponnesian War more than two millennia ago. The pandemic panic shows in the starkest statistical numbers that, where social justice is achieved, the outcome of the politics of the police is not the command of the sovereign.
Chapter
This chapter offers a critical analyses of the emergence of the police through imperial linkages (Cole in Policing Across the World: Issues for the Twenty-First Century. Routledge, Abingdon, 1999). It reflects upon the impact that this has upon the policing of Black communities contemporarily, significantly with regard to over policing through stop and search and evaluates scholarly explanations. It continues in this regard, to consider the use and abuse of police force and disproportionate Black deaths in police custody. In order to situate this book within the broader field of literature, police culture as an explanation for the endurance of racism within the police service will be addressed. The chapter will conclude that the role and function of the police service is incongruous with the notion of consensual policing, particularly in regards to the policing of the racialised Other
Chapter
This chapter continues a series of interviews, focussing on Police officers’ perception of their role and responsibilities are vital in shaping their attitude towards encounters and whether they are willing to adopt or condone these actions. Their perception of how the public respond to the use of deadly force is also important in understanding their justifications for encounters.
Article
This paper examines the operational realities of the police executive linkages—beyond the official dictates of the law and the desired position expressed in ideological discourses on police independence. Paper draws primarily on historical and criminological literature and research, and public inquiries. The central argument of this paper is that, while there may be a somewhat clear-cut division between the policy versus the operational control of the police by the State in law and in rhetoric, the reality is quite different. The relationship between the State and the police is a dynamic relationship that changes to reflect the nature of the policing that is being carried-out, the political interests of the party in power, and to some extent the personalities of the key players within both the police services and in politics at a specific period in time. This research indicates that looking for the 'smoking gun'—i.e. the memo or document that in writing acknowledges a directive from the executive to the police sidesteps the reality of the on-going partnerships between politics and policing.
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This paper makes problematic the situational conditions under which policemen write official crime reports in field encounters with complainants. These reports are the raw materials for official crime rates--"crimes known to the police." They also are a prerequisite of further investigation of the crime by the detective bureau and thus of apprehension of the offender. They constitute official recognition of crimes. The findings derive from a three-city observation study of routine police encounters. Among the conditions that relate to the production of official crime reports are the following: the legal seriousness of the complaint, the complainant's observable preference for police action, the relational distance between the complainant and the suspect, the complainant's degree of deference toward the police, and the complainant's social-class status. However, there is no evidence of racial discrimination in crime-reporting. We interpret these empirical patterns not only from the standpoint of crime rates as such but also from the standpoint of the relation between police work and other aspects of social organization.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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