Identity culture and power – cop culture

 

It goes into depth about how police work cannot always be played by the book. Due to its nature of fragmented areas and differing individualistic occurrences each problem has to be dealt with in different contexts. There is a gap between the ideology of the law and the practices of it. Mainly due to the discretionary elements of the street police and the legitimate police practises. I shall look now in depth to how cop culture has an effect on the notions of identity. How because the cop culture is seen as a machismo attitude to life how this affects gender.

Also how membership of group inclusion or exclusion affects our perception and their perception of it. How the cultural values of this culture impact on everyday life and action. The cop culture starts at the beginning in the recruitment it use to be that there were height restrictions. This had an impact on how recruitment for those from ethnic minorities and women were discriminated against. These have now been dropped. However the recruitment of ethnic minorities and women is still not as high as it should be.

The very nature of the Police force may put off people from joining this profession. In the probationary period of training when one starts to become a member of the group, and to become a member of the group you have to be seen to be “doing member” (Goffman). This is a transition period a form of transformation where you are socialised into the group and taught the norms and values of it. These norms and values are very much different for women and those from ethnic minorities. The police force is a world of “Old fashioned machismo” (Reiner).

The sexism is re-enforced by discrimination at recruitment and promotion. The general practices of police recruits is accomplished by sexual boasting and home play. Things which women, when trying to become a member of a group of this kind will find alien to them. The after work drinking sessions are aimed to block out or discuss the days events, practises which are very gender specific. A woman trying to become a member, if she takes part on there sessions, is described as unfeminine, butch or lesbian and not a real woman.

However in not joining in with the group and staying away doesn’t allow them to become part of it and their femininity is seen to be a negative aspect. Acceptance into the group is hard for women, and discrimination is high, despite formal integration. The men see police work as a male domain, not the type of occupation for what they determine as the weaker sex. Although the majority of police work does not need brute force but is of the mundane jobs, i. e. traffic police, regular beat work, reports of minor offences.

The difficulty to accomplish group acceptance and therefore membership is because they are women, and excluded by their fellow male police workers in some areas. The performance of masculinity, the stories, the props, gestures and interactions create a relationship within the group, identity is accomplished. How then do you transpose a female identity within a group like this? The police sub-culture is said to be representative of the patriarchal wider society. The larger sub-culture takes away your individual identity as you take on the group identity and experience their cultural values in a Hedonic and oppressive environment.

The power if the sub-culture serves restrictions on women within the group to take on a wider values, when they are in direct contrast to what they believe in. There is also a problem for those who are from ethnic minorities as the police sub-culture has a reputation of racial prejudice. This is again seen as a reflection of wider societies views especially from the social groups prevalent in the police force. Namely the lower middle or working class, who generally are educated to only high school qualifications.

The general perception is that the black community is prone to crime and violence, and hostility. The suspicion is that it is difficult for them to be accepted into the rank and the file of the police force. The domination of the white officers and the lack of acceptance in the group, they can dismember and member. Making a work environment so difficult that they do not wish to work in it. The identity of those within the culture is seen in Skolnium. (1966) Working personality, in that the culture reflects and prohibits the social structure of the police and its power difference.

The value of the culture is the maintenance of power. It is not made up of an individual personality but a socially generated culture. A culture, which is created and sustained by the very environment that it partakes in. In police work the two areas of danger and authority, in that a police officer could be attacked at any time. He represents authority and is backed by legal legitimate force. Therefore this symbolises power, and power in this dimension is not used correctly, can result in an abuse of power, which has an impact in the community being policed.

As said before policing is a way of life, not just a job. Therefore identity, a blurring of the boundaries of a person at work and a person at home, cannot shake of the identity of a police officer. There is the interaction with members of the public, they are categorised into problematic areas. In Reiner there are “good class villains” these are professionals who play the same game as the police they are seen be able to perform their professional role and do what they are trained to do. However when police deal with what they term as rubbish, i. e.domestic disputes, alcoholics, drug addicts its seen as work unworthy of there training and more for social workers.

They want to get on with real policing not dealing with minor things not worthy of their identity job practices. However police work is mainly made up of this so called rubbish, police work is not all exciting it is usually mundane with lots of small incidents and paper work. Challengers- those criminals again who are seen to give the police a chance to show their expertise. Changing the whole group identity of policing can change the cop culture that has been created.

By recruitment practices which have already been discussed. Rather than reinforcing the culture, take it apart analyse it and by recruitment strategies and learning you can challenge sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes. Also in training given to deal with differing situations. To bring in community policing methods which allow police and public to exchange culture and values and integrate meaning into their relationship. That sub-cultures are not fixed they and their culture and values can be adopted if not changed. Student No. 993068737.