Violence and legitimacy

  • Created by: amyoakey
  • Created on: 01-01-20 16:08

What do we mean by violence?

Stanko, 2001:316

"Any form of behaviour by an individual that intentionally threatens to or does cause physical, sexual or psychological harm to others or themselves". 

ACPO, 2001:1-1

"Police officers may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty"

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Context of police violence

The New York Times 2011

Through lines of police horses and with dogs charged the main street outside the police station, to push rioters back, there were significant pockets of violence which they could not reach. 

Bitner, 1974

Bitner conceptualised police as emergency order maintenance deploying the capacity for legitimate force. 

Zizek, 2009

  • Subjective violence - tangible, physical, individual, personal. 
  • Symbolic violence - language and representation, 'protestor'/'rioter', the violence of discourse and imagery.
  • Systemic violence - often catastrophic consequences of smooth functioning economic and political systems, repression, maintenance of core values institutional racism?
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Armed officers and accountability

Punch, 2011

  • A key early case - James Ashley and the Sussex police (1998)
  • Outcomes - in relation to the police use of fatal force accountability has to lead up the police hierarchy.

Waddington & Wright, 2008: 482

"As custodians of the state's sovereign power over its own citizens and in possession of weaponry denied to others, police officers occupy a position of extreme public trust. That trust is violated when they use force erroneously, carelessly, excessively or wilfully". 

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Bradford et al, 2013

The police can be considered to be legitimate when individuals perceive that police officers act in morally valid ways, when individuals believe that the police abide by the rules and procedures intended to govern their behaviour, and when individuals voluntarily offer their consent to police activity.

Procedural Justice Theory

  • Procedural justice judgements demonstrated to have an important influence on peoples' reactions to society and law. 
  • People typically significantly less angry with a negative outcome produced by a fair procedure compared. 
  • If experience procedural justice more likely to view those authorities as legitimate and accept decisions/obey rules. 
  • Police legitimacy and police violence - defending people, meeting violence with violence. 

Accept police as legitimate monopolists of violence?

  • The extent that police gain legitimacy, they may secure perceived normative monopoly on force.
  • Positive police legitimacy judgements may have a 'crowding out' effect on attitudes to private violence. 
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