Police in Contradiction: The Evolution of the Police Function in Society

Police in Contradiction: The Evolution of the Police Function in Society

Police in Contradiction: The Evolution of the Police Function in Society

Police in Contradiction: The Evolution of the Police Function in Society

Synopsis

This book formulates a theory of the origin and evolution of the police function, using both historical and cross-cultural analysis. It explains the incremental changes in the police function associated with the transition from kinship-based to class-dominated societies, and examines the implications of these changes for modern police-community relations. It suggests that the police institution has a double and contradictory function: at the same time, and in the same society, it seeks to be the agent of the people it polices and of the dominant class. The authors critique community policing and suggest how communities may be reconstituted in order to create a community police. A comprehensive bibliography enhances this study for students, teachers, and professionals in the fields of criminal justice and sociology.

Excerpt

This book takes preliminary steps toward formulating a theory of the origin and evolution of the police function. Our theory suggests that the police function, in its modern form, is linked to economic specialization and differential access to resources which characterize class-dominated rather than kinship-based societies. The special contribution of our theory is to explicate the incremental changes in the police function associated with the transition from kinship-based to class-dominated societies, both historically and cross-culturally, and to examine the implications of these changes for modern police-community relations.

The theory proposed in this book is constructed from both anthropological and historical materials. It consists of four interdependent propositions: (1) specialized police agencies are generally characteristic only of societies politically organized as states; (2) the origin of the specialized police function is associated with the division of society into dominant and subordinate classes, that is, classes with antagonistic interests; (3) in a period of transition, the crucial factor in delineating the modern specialized police function is an ongoing attempt at conversion of the social control (policing) mechanism from an integral part of the community structure to an agent of an emerging dominant class; and (4) the police is created by the emerging dominant class as an instrument for the preservation of its control over restricted access to basic resources, over the political apparatus governing this access, and over the labor force necessary to provide the surplus upon which the dominant class lives.

Thus, our theory suggests that developmentally, the police institution has a double and contradictory origin and function. At the same time, and . . .

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