Police Unlimited

Paul Mutsaers

Published in print February 2019 | ISBN: 9780198788508
Published online April 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780191830389 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Studies in Criminology

Police Unlimited

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Police Unlimited is centred on a controversial idea that it supports with detailed ethnographic materials: police forces are a focal point of conflict in modern societies. Instead of a consensus model of law enforcement that understands the function of policing as socially integrative, it links to a conflict model concerned with the socially divisive effects of policing. Throughout the book, these effects and their causes are discussed on a national and global level. An ethnographic study was carried out at the Dutch police to enhance our understanding of police discrimination. Concerned with both internal and external affairs, the book addresses conflict cases within and outside the police station, covering both inter-ethnic tensions at work and the migrant hostility observed while joining officers on patrol. The cases are discussed in light of the corroding public character of Dutch policing and the risks involved in terms of discrimination and the arbitrary, or even privatized use of power. Signalling an increased blur of the private and public spheres in policing, the book warns about an ‘unlimited’ police force that is no longer constrained by the public contours that delineate a legal bureaucracy. For the sake of ethnological knowledge production that ultimately serves to develop a police anthropology, the ethnographic materials are consistently compared with other police ethnographies in the ‘global north’ and ‘global south’. This comparative analysis points out that the demise of bureaucracy makes it increasingly difficult for police organizations across the globe to exclude politics, particularism, and populism from their operations.

Keywords: policing; bureaucracy; discrimination; anthropology; migrants; borderlands; diversity management

Book.  224 pages. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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