Textbook Notes (369,067)
Canada (162,366)
York University (12,903)
CRIM 3655 (6)


5 Pages

Course Code
CRIM 3655
James Sheptycki

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CRIM 3655 – FALL BOOK NOTES th October 8 , 2013 Shearing: Subterranean Processes in the Maintenance of Power - Conflict theorists have identified the role of the state as critical - The theoretical problem is that of linking the class structure of advanced capitalism in to the capitalist state - Law is used as a resource, or weapon, in the preservation of power relations o Egalitarian safeguards built into the law in liberal democracies are systematically undermined in practice by law enforces who emphasize extra-legal criteria that identify persons as members of ‘problem populations’ - Criminality is thus an ascribed status applied disproportionately to the least powerful - There is a view that the law acts not to direct law enforcement, but to provide an ideological resource that can be used to legitimize political control as a non-political activity based on egalitarian criteria - One must look beyond the law itself if one is to identify the mechanisms that provide for the systematic introduction of extra-legal status considerations in law enforcement - Influence exercised by political and senior police authorities is too variable to provide a satisfactory explanation for the systematic of status criteria in the maintenance of order - Lockwood argued that consensus theory, with its focus on explicit political and legal norms, directed attention to the superstructural processes involved in the ideological work of legitimation, while conflict theory, with its Marxian heritage, directed attention to a more substructural level of analysis o Attention should be directed to the subterranean levels within the police organization, and, more generally, within the state o It is thus common sense or ‘rules of thumb’ that make up the police subculture, to which attention should be directed in searching for the processes coordinating law enforcement practice - Police subculture believe that the public view them as a hated and distrusted enemy and they, in turn, reciprocate by regarding the public as their enemy o This enemy relationship operates to encourage police solidarity, secrecy, and a hostile, sometimes violent, response to the public - Police subculture has been conceived of as a defense mechanism developed by the police in response to the demands made on them by the public, the public’s hostility, and the danger and ambiguities of police work - Their subculture sets them apart from all interest groups by defining them as an independent body isolated from and independent of all others - Shearing argues that the enemy metaphor is not used by the police with respect to the public at large o There is a fundamental distinction made by the police between people they serve and the troublemakers they control in the course of providing their service – between the police they do things for and those they do things to The Research - Tendency to gloss over distinctions between different police publics seem to have been a result of the influence of labelling theory which focused on police response to troublemakers - Consequence of this was the highlighting of this public as the public police - Observation of over 60 shifts as well as the tape-recording of several thousand telephone conversations between both policemen in the centre and citizens, and between policemen in the centre and policemen in other parts of the department Police Involvement in Class Conflict - Police did not view themselves as enemies of the public at large - Policemen made a fundamental distinction between the public and the ‘scum’ on the other o Public consisted of those the police believed they should serve and protect o Scum were the people whom the police prosecuted in the course of helping the public – troublemakers who impelled the public to seek police assistance o Scum were viewed as the enemy of the public - therefore, enemy of the police o Scum were unclean, threatened the police and the public both physically and morally o Scum deserved no help from the police – any harm the scum did to each other was all to the better, as it assisted the police and the public in their conflict with the scum o Scum referred to as the dangerous or criminal classes - Neither the scum nor the public refer to the situated roles of troublemaker and victim/complainant that emerge in the definition of, reaction to, particular troubles o Rather, they refer to two relatively stable populations of persons who become involved in trouble o What distinguishes the scum from the public is that the scum are structurally in conflict with, and are the enemies of, the public - In using the theory of distinguishing between two classes, the police culture makes available a social theory they can use in the context of their work to define situations and construct a course of action in response to them o Policemen when entered into the situation are able, and encouraged, to use the power of the state, on behalf of the public, to control the scum to preserve dominance of the public and system of relationships on which the opposition between the two groups depends - Scum and the public are categories consistent with Marx’s notions of the surplus unproductive population and the productive population engaged in capitalistic modes of production o Surplus population constitutes a threat to the productive classes o Police subculture is used to control the surplus population Class Conflict and Egalitarian Ideals - In contrast to the scum, the public were viewed by the police as allies who they helped and assisted in their conflict with the scum - The police viewed themselves as professionals, and contrasted their status and expertise with the helplessness and incompetence of the public - They believed to be more knowledgeable and experienced than the public, but more objective and impartial - Perceived inequality between police and public proved a chronic source of tension, as it seemed public did not always respect professionalism of the law enforcers or acknowledge their own incompetence as laymen - Police feel that many of the problems brought to their attention by the public were trivial and could have been handled themselves - Police feel that as a result of the dramatization of police role in novels, films, and television dramas, the public had developed unreasonable expectations concerning the capacity to resolve problems - Another issue was that the public had a tendency to demand help rather than request it, sug
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