Everyday policing: Toward a greater analytical appreciation of the ordinary in police research

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Since its modern conception, police research has shown an interest in everyday life. This has to do with how this (sub)discipline, more than other areas of criminological thought, has been founded on ethnographic methods. Since Westley’s study in the 1950s, scholars have agreed on the importance of not simply studying policing through proxies, but also observing and studying the workaday reality of police practice. This paper is written as an appreciation of this scholarly disposition. However, while applauding fellow police researchers’ ethnographic engagement, the paper argues that we could do with an even greater appreciation of everyday life not only in methodological but in analytical terms. Using an ethnographic study of the Danish Police, the paper thus stresses the often-unnoticed advantage of paying better analytical attention to the many ordinary and even banal aspects of police work. In doing so, the paper follows and extends Fassin’s (2015, 2017) recent contention that the many ordinary activities of the police may not have benefitted from the scholarly scrutiny they deserve. Indeed, as demonstrated through telling empirical examples, even the most everyday issues frequently have a bearing on the most essential and evocative aspects of policing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicing and Society
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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