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Title: Personal identity and the police occupation in South Africa
Author: Faull, Andrew Gordon
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 6154
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores the question, 'Who do South African police officers think they are and how does this shape police practice?' Based on eight months of ethnographic fieldwork in Cape Town and the Eastern Cape province of South Africa in 2012/13, it is an exploration of the deep-seated perceptions, stories and imaginings that South African Police Service (SAPS) officers have of themselves, their occupation and their country, in the early twenty-first century. It unpacks how officers’ individual narratives shape, and are shaped by organisational narratives and forces, and how this interplay influences police practice in an unequal and violent young democracy. The thesis suggests that a job in the SAPS is primarily just that, a job. It is a means to strive and survive in a country saturated in vulnerability and risk. Most officers join the organisation after other dreams have slipped out of reach. Once recruited they re-write their self-narratives to accommodate their new circumstances. Recruited from lineages long-oppressed, the meaning and income the job brings to their lives is usually more important to them than the work they carry out. As a result, they seek first to please their institutional overseers and ease the pressure of the job. This is achieved by enacting institutional performances that promote the idea that the SAPS is a rational, effective, evidence-based and rule-bound organisation made of up well trained officers performing common-sense crime prevention tasks, while hiding the darker side of police work. Using carefully choreographed performances, the SAPS and its officers present a strategically crafted façade behind which individual officers strive to secure their sense of self. When the façade is challenged, some resort to violence in an attempt to garner the respect they seek.
Supervisor: Loader, Ian; Steinberg, Jonny Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Criminology ; Anthropology ; personal identity ; police ; police officers ; South African Police Service ; law and order ; crime ; security governance