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Policing Protest: The Control of Mass Demonstrations in Western Democracies

Donatella della Porta
Herbert Reiter
Afterword by Gary T. Marx
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Policing Protest
    Book Description:

    The only resource to examine police interventions cross-nationally, this collection analyzes a wide array of policing styles. Focusing on Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Spain, the United States, and South Africa, the contributors look at cultures and political power to examine the methods and the consequences of policing protest. Contributors: Rocco De Biasi, Olivier Fillieule, Oscar Jaime-Jiménez, Fabien Jobard, Hanspeter Kriesi,Gary T. Marx, John McCarthy, Clark McPhail, Fernando Reinares, Robert Reiner, David Schweingruber, P. A. J. Waddington, Martin Winter, and Dominique Wisler.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8872-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction: The Policing of Protest in Western Democracies
    (pp. 1-32)
    Donatella della Porta and Herbert Reiter

    One specific aspect of state response to political dissent is the policing of protest, which we define as the police handling of protest events—a more neutral description for what protesters usually refer to as “repression” and the state as “law and order.” Although the repression variable has been included in several models on the preconditions for collective action (among others, Tilly, 1978, in particular 101-6; Skocpol, 1979; McAdam, 1982), empirical research on the relationship between police and protesters in Western democracies is still rare. There is, therefore, a significant gap to be filled in the literature with comparative studies...

  2. Part I. Policing Protest in Established Democracies

    • Chapter 1 Policing, Protest, and Disorder in Britain
      (pp. 35-48)
      Robert Reiner

      The origins of modern British policing are intimately related to changing perceptions and patterns of disorder and protest. There is a long-running debate in historical analyses of the early development of the police in Britain between those who stress the centrality of riot and disorder to it (e.g., Silver, 1967, 1971), those who emphasize the role of everyday crime (e.g., Reith, 1956), and those who see police expansion as fundamentally a reflex of the bureaucratization of government in general (e.g., Monkkonen, 1981).

      The debate is partly a function of the ideological perspective of the author: more orthodox, conservative interpretations seek...

    • Chapter 2 Policing Protest in the United States: 1960-1995
      (pp. 49-69)
      Clark McPhail, David Schweingruber and John McCarthy

      Students of collective action have given great attention to the sources, processes, and consequences of changing repertoires of collective action across space and time. One important focus of this scholarship has been the integral role of interaction between protesters and the police (e.g., Kritzer, 1977; McAdam, 1983; Tilly, 1978, 1995). The actions of each modify the environments of the other, creating intermittent opportunities and obstacles that result in ongoing reciprocal adjustments of each party’s purposive efforts. As the agents of the state devise ways of blunting, blocking, or finessing the actions of the protesters, the latter devise variations and innovations...

    • Chapter 3 The Policing of Protest in France: Toward a Model of Protest Policing
      (pp. 70-90)
      Olivier Fillieule and Fabien Jobard

      InDemonstration Democracy(1970), Amitai Etzioni stated that the recourse to direct expression of opinion through protest was becoming an increasingly common practice in democratic countries. According to Etzioni, this was noticeable both in the rise in the number of demonstrations and in the spread of this practice to all levels of society. This analysis is in line with the French situation of the 1980s and the 1990s. In fact, the legitimacy of protest is now well recognized by French public opinion. Its use is widespread among all socioprofessional categories (Fillieule, 1997) and the legal framework has developed to the...

    • Chapter 4 Public Order, Protest Cycles, and Political Process: Two Swiss Cities Compared
      (pp. 91-116)
      Dominique Wisler and Hanspeter Kriesi

      The Approach The “political process” perspective in research on social movements (McAdam, 1982; Tilly, 1978; Kitschelt, 1986), which emphasizes the crucial role played by the state on trajectories of contention, has been less concerned with the constitutional mechanisms by which the state responds to protests than with the windows of opportunity that such occasions temporarily offer challengers. Phrasing it in another way, research has been focused on the input side of the “political opportunity structure” (POS), defined as open or closed, and has neglected its output side. To be fair, it should be acknowledged that proponents of the political process...

    • Chapter 5 Controlling Protest in Contemporary Historical and Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 117-140)
      P.A.J. Waddington

      All states seek to control protest voiced by, and dissent among, their population. Otherwise, if protest gets out of control, rebellion and revolution might follow and the very existence of the state be jeopardized.Howthat control is exercised varies enormously from occasion to occasion and from one state to another. At one extreme, the Communist Chinese regime responded to student demands for greater democracy by the massacre of Tiananmen Square. Elsewhere, such protest would be treated by the authorities as both unexceptional and unexceptionable. But even in liberal democracies there are periods during “protest cycles” (Tarrow, 1989a) when the...

  3. Part II. Policing Protest in Young Democracies

    • Chapter 6 Police and Public Order in Italy, 1944-1948: The Case of Florence
      (pp. 143-165)
      Herbert Reiter

      This essay is based on a case study of the public order interventions of the police in the city and province of Florence in the immediate postwar years. Unlike the situation in the south of Italy, in Florence the resistance movement against fascism and the German occupation was a political and military reality. The consequences of the liberation of the city in August 1944, however, were not the same as those encountered later on in the north, in particular as far as political violence and the competition posed for the state police by a “partisan police” was concerned (Storchi, 1995)....

    • Chapter 7 The Policing of Social Protest in Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy
      (pp. 166-187)
      Oscar Jaime-Jiménez and Fernando Reinares

      In analyzing the evolution of the police model in Spain during the country’s shift from dictatorship to democracy, the approach employed in this essay is grounded on the premise thatpolice knowledgeis conditioned by the professional culture of the police—in other words, by the image the security forces themselves have of the functions they fulfill, and by the cultural environment, which is made up of the perceptions they have of the external reality (see della Porta and Reiter, in this volume). In this respect, one would expect to find tangible differences between democratic and nondemocratic systems in relation...

    • Chapter 8 Police Philosophy and Protest Policing in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1960-1990
      (pp. 188-212)
      Martin Winter

      How did the political self-image of the German police, and particularly that of high-ranking police officers, change during the period from 1960 until the German reunification in 1990? In which direction did police protest control strategy move during this period? What kind of interdependence exists between police conflict strategy in the context of public protests and police self-definition? This essay attempts to respond to these three questions by means of a chronological history of the police debate on the self-definition of the police and on police interventions during public protest events. The empirical basis of the essay lies not in...

    • Chapter 9 The Policing of Hooliganism in Italy
      (pp. 213-227)
      Rocco De Biasi

      Both from an institutional point of view and from the point of view of practical knowledge gained and used by the Italian police, the term “public order” has a very specific meaning. My intention here is not to discuss the issue of the collective representation of public order in the common sense, but to investigate the meaning that Italian police give to this term.¹ For this reason, “public order” will be given a rather different meaning than that usually employed by the social sciences.

      Some examples of definitions found in interviews conducted with police officials will clarify this point:²


    • Chapter 10 Police Knowledge and Protest Policing: Some Reflections on the Italian Case
      (pp. 228-252)
      Donatella della Porta

      One of the most delicate functions taken on by the police is the control of public order. Indeed, for people involved in demonstrations, the police represent the very face of state power (Lipsky, 1970; see also Muir, 1977). Direct interventions by the police to restore public order, moreover, put the police on the front pages of the press and increase the likelihood of public criticism (della Porta, 1995, 1997). It is likely, then, that because of this particular delicacy, the strategies of the police concerning the question of public order are multiple and ever-changing, so much so that important changes...

  4. Afterword: Some Reflections on the Democratic Policing of Demonstrations
    (pp. 253-270)
    Gary T. Marx

    Three decades ago when the American Kerner Commission (President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, 1968) studied questions of the police and civil disorders, there was very little social science research to inform the analysis.¹ We have fortunately come a long way in our understanding since then, as the articles in this volume make clear. Within Western democracies, we have also come a long way in the institutionalization of a more tolerant and humane response to those forms of organized protest that stay broadly within the realm of nonviolence.

    I first became aware of this ethos as applied to crowds...