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Reproducing Order

Reproducing Order: A Study of Police Patrol Work

Richard V. Ericson
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 243
  • Book Info
    Reproducing Order
    Book Description:

    The author's conclusions about the nature of policing and his discussion of the implications of proposals for reform of police, will generate better-informed deliberation in political and public decision-making and in the general study of sociological theory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7924-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 The Police as Reproducers of Order
    (pp. 3-32)

    Police forces funded by government are a fact of life. The acceleration of their growth and the dispersal of their activities are now so widespread we tend to forget that the modern policing system has been in existence only 150 years. Before that, policing and crime control were mainly in the hands of the ‘private’ sector (cf Beattie, 1981).

    The new police system was not introduced and accepted overnight. At least in Britain, the new police had to work constantly at establishing their legitimacy. There was a general cultural resistance to plainclothes detectives of any type (Moylan, 1929; Miller, 1979;...

  6. 2 Research Strategy
    (pp. 33-51)

    Our primary research task is to examine empirically how patrol officers constitute the world they inhabit through their decision-making processes. This entails extensive and intensive observation of patrol officers in the full round of their work activities.

    An approach of this type has been used by a number of researchers studying police work (for an excellent review of police fieldwork studies, see Van Maanen, 1978; for a Canadian field study, see Vincent, 1979). This approach is in keeping with a sociological tradition emphasizing the need to understand organizational life through first-hand contact with the actors who comprise it. As Goffman (1961:...

  7. 3 The Occupational Environment
    (pp. 52-72)

    A focal concern of patrol officers is orders received from the force administration and mediation of these orders within the occupational culture of line officers. Idealistic recruits soon learn that the ‘crime-busting’ image of police work in television serials and news accounts bears little relation to the work they actually do and that a different orientation is required. This orientation is derived from officers who are similarly situated and is common to line workers in any bureaucratic organization. The questions collectively asked include: how can we deflect controls over our work? how can we make it look as if our...

  8. 4 Mobilization
    (pp. 73-99)

    The disorder encountered by patrol officers, and their efforts at reproducing order, result from whatever they, and/or the citizens who mobilize them, initially define as police business. A distinction exists in the academic literature between citizen-initiatedreactivemobilization and police-initiatedproactivemobilization. Reactive mobilization generally results either from ‘spontaneous requests’ by individual citizens for police assistance in handling their troubles, or from ‘planned requests’ by a community group who demand a pattern of service that will serve the group’s particular interests (Kelling et al, 1979: 3). Proactive mobilization generally results from ‘spontaneous decisions’ by individual patrol officers to stop citizens...

  9. 5 Dealing with Victim-Complainants
    (pp. 100-136)

    Citizens mobilize the police for a wide variety of purposes. In addition to reporting property-related troubles such as automobile accidents, lost property, and theft, they call the police to handle interpersonal conflicts because other forms of social control have failed, are unavailable, or are absent (Black, 1968: 117, 1972: 1099, 1976: 6; Meyer, 1974: 81–2). This failure of controls is especially frequent at particular times and places (Cumming et al, 1970: 187) and among the less powerful (Black, 1971: 1108; Bottomley, 1973: 45). The police are used as a power resource to help reproduce the order desired by the...

  10. 6 Dealing with Suspects and Accused Persons
    (pp. 137-193)

    Researchers have paid little attention to the ‘career’ of suspects and accused persons from the first contact with the police through to the point at which their cases are disposed of by the police or in court. Few researchers on the police follow what happens after charging the accused, while most researchers on the accused do not study what happens before charging. Nevertheless researchers (e.g. Baldwin and McConville, 1977: 105; Bottoms and McClean, 1976: 230; Ericson and Baranek, 1982) stress the importance of studying the accused from theearliestpoint of contact with the police because this strongly influences later...

  11. 7 Conclusions and Implications: Some Comments on Constructive policing
    (pp. 194-208)

    In this final chapter I ‘raise’ our findings to a different level in order to comment upon the role of policing in contemporary society. I initially document and consider the construction of organized police forces as a major force in Canadian society. I then review our findings, in conjunction with those of other researchers, to assess what is produced by this force. This in turn leads me to question the basis for the construction of policing and to suggest some constructive alternative strategies for an orderly existence.

    As our research has shown, patrol officers are able to use strategically the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 209-224)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-236)
  14. Index
    (pp. 237-243)