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Post-Modern Turn in Policing: Policing as Pastiche?

NCJ Number
International Journal of the Sociology of Law Volume: 27 Issue: 2 Dated: June 1999 Pages: 127-152
William De Lint
John Carrier, Stephen Savage
Date Published
June 1999
26 pages
This paper evaluates the contention that a number of developments in late modern times will serve to undermine the role of the police; the thesis that public police agencies are operating in the context of a hollowed-out moral order and according to post-modern versions of authority and subjectivity is challenged.
Public police agencies have enjoyed a long tradition of relative autonomy from the state, especially in their peace-keeping functions and their role of maintaining status quo distributions. While police administrators in a post-bureaucratic managerial culture reframe their mandate using post-modern rhetoric of authority and subjectivity, this should not be seen as evidence that daily practices of police administrators are weakened. Arguments and counter-arguments on the state of policing vis-a-vis legitimacy have tended to prevail in a top-down view of the policing institution, in order to project future policing trends. Consideration is paid to policing in the context of neo-liberalism and risk and the culture of policing. The author believes the current version of policing relies on a top-down synthesis and does not pay adequate attention to the continuities of policing from the ground up. From the point of view of the culture of policing, high modern reflections on policing are just catching up to the pragmatism and realism that ethnographies on the police have been pointed out for almost half a century. 137 references and 4 notes