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Lecture 1

SOC3750 Lecture 1: Police In Society Lectures

Course Code
SOC 3750
Michelle Dumas

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Historical Overview of Police 2015-09-10
1. Policing as Drama
oUnderstanding “drama” of policing (dramaturgy)
The study of ways in which we present ourselves that
can be compared to the stage
The roles that people play are learned and are created
and negotiated by people and how they manage
themselves in the public life
oGoffman (Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959)
Front stage
What you are going to present to the audience
Public identity of police
How they present themselves to the public
(from media sources, etc.)
Usually an air of authority, confidence
Back stage
Where everyone is getting dressed up, getting
ready, practicing, things people aren’t going to
Police can drop the act, can check their
performance, repair, etc.
Can have strategic importance
We don’t get the full extent of the backstage
Argued that in private, we can act however we want but
we have an interest in how we present ourselves to
other people
Depending on who the audience is, changes how we act
Said we’re all imposters
Important for him – looking at spoiled identities and
how people hide their spoiled identities
i.e. stuttering, people who have been to prison (ex-
oExample (the funeral)
Everything is strategic (where they stand, what they
wear, etc.)

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Shows that we respect officers, what they do
It reassures other officers that what they are doing is
worth it, it is worth the risk, shows that if it were them
they would be taken care of, they know that we hold
them at a high regard and that their contribution
doesn’t go unnoticed
oDrug Bust
No rule that they have to display drugs after a
They pose for the press (the way they display the
Look at the great work we have done
Essentially keeping the streets safe
The public is impressed by these types of displays
They tell the public how much everything is worth
2. As Risk Management
oEricson & Haggerty (Policing the Risk Society, 1997)
Policing isn’t just about responding to crime but also
managing the possibility of crime
Directing them to areas where police know crime is
more likely to occur
Police are expected to be more proactive
Research neighbourhoods for crime and then try to be
there to prevent it from happening
o“Possibility of crime”
We want to reduce and prevent crime
The reactive policing just wasn’t working anymore
Funnels a lot of resources into places that it may not
have before

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Class Analysis
oConflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat
Class Structure (police)
Some have argued that the police are part of the
working class
Do a dangerous job, they have no access to
capital, they do not create policies, selling their
labour as a means for survival
Some have argued that they are working for the ruling
Police are the first “bodies of armed men” (Engles)
Their intention for the police was to defend and protect
the ruling class
Marx – if this weren’t true, the police would spend more
time looking at white-collar crime instead of just street
Functionalism (Consensus)
oSociety essentially resembles a machine
oThe machine has many parts and every part has a role to play
oIf there is a breakdown in a part of the machine, we can have
o1. Structure
What does the machine look like, what are the parts
Institutions and how they fit together to make the
whole (education, criminal justice system, politics,
family, etc.)
Social stability (how they all work together to make the
o2. Function
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