Introduction: The Anthropology of Police

Paul Mutsaers

in Police Unlimited

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

Series: Clarendon Studies in Criminology

Introduction: The Anthropology of Police

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This introduction starts with a general discussion of the conflicted contours of police as reported by police anthropologists in various parts of the world. It leans on the notion of law and disorder, which is marked by the idea that police are not always a prerequisite of a socio-legal order and can sometimes even disturb it. It subsequently argues that this is largely due to an unmediated proximity between police and the policed that exists in many societies across the north–south divide. The risks of such ‘state proximity’ are manifold and yet, law enforcement bodies have carried out numerous reforms that make it possible. The chapter discusses various anti-bureaucracy reforms and the negative social effects they have had in The Netherlands. It concludes with an introduction of the chapters of the book, specifying the various links between the theories it has outlined and the empirical parts of the book.

Keywords: law and disorder; sovereignty; state proximity; legal alienation; modularity; privatization; biocracy

Chapter.  12264 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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