The occupational culture of urban policing : an ethnographic study
This thesis is based on ethnographic data gathered by the author during his period of service as a police officer working in an inner city area. The research described concerns an analysis of the occupational culture of urban policing. First, literature on the sociology of the police is reviewed. Particular attention is given to recent Marxist analyses of the police and more classical work by William Westley and Jerome Skolnick. The former research is criticised for its lack of attention to the occupational culture, the latter for presenting ambiguous evidence as if it were plain. The thesis is then placed within the context of the sociology of the police and the recent history of British policing; particular attention is given to the development of 'professional policing'. Three substantive issues then form the major focus of the thesis. First, changes in the occupational culture since Dr Maureen Cain ··completed her research are described and analysed. The important changes of Unit Beat Policing and the professionalisation of the police are given particular consideration. Further, knowledge of the occupational culture is advanced into new areas; techniques of control, spatial and temporal perception and police use of 'verballing' and physical force are analysed. Secondly, criticism is made of Manning's recent work on policing in Anglo-American societies. It is argued that Manning provides insufficient data to sustain his thesis and differences between the British and American settings are outlined. Using Schutz's theory of relevance, data are used to chart primary and secondary aspects of the British occupational culture; this. offers a new perspective on urban policing. Thirdly, the thesis deals with the notion that policing is 'socially constructed'. Manning's research is of further interest at this point. His thesis is criticised, not least for stating that policing is socially i constructed, without demonstrating ~ that construction is achieved in the course of routine police work. Data gathered during the author's period of fieldwork are used to describe features of police work which sustain lower ranks' definition of their task. Overall, the thesis demonstrates the continuing dominance of lower police ranks who maintain freedom from legal and organisational constraints to practise police work as they define it.