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Enforcing Order - an Ethnography of Urban Policing


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Acknowledgements Preliminary Remarks Preface to the Engish Edition Prologue - Interpellation In which the author comes to understand that it is sometimes dangerous to wait for a bus in the outer city on New Year?s Eve. How policing practice provides the language for a philosophical theory, and how a philosophical theory supplies the meaning of policing practice. That this is not a testimony, and that indignation is not rage. Introduction - Inquiry How the present research was authorized and then forbidden, and that this censorship is revelatory of petty exceptions in a democratic regime. That an ethnography of the police requires resisting the dual temptation of exoticism and culturalism. That a study is often the result of the converging effects of chance and necessity. Chapter 1 - Situation How an imaginary of war came to be established in the relations between the police and the projects. That a brief history of the social question and security issues is essential in order to understand the context in which law enforcement faces classes reputed to be dangerous. That the creation of more aggressive special units was judged necessary to deal with the alleged disorder in the outer cities. Chapter 2 - Ordinary How the daily work of police officers is far removed from the image they had of it when they joined the force, and the illusion they continue to maintain of it. That evaluation of the work of urban patrols yields such unexpected results that it is not taken into account by government. That inaction generates action, and what this phenomenon of spontaneous generation means for the residents of the projects. Chapter 3 - Interactions How stops and frisks serve purposes other than those they are supposed to serve, and prove more effective in perpetuating a social order than in maintaining public order. That the way police officers speak about the individuals with whom they deal throws light on their way of operating in the outer cities. That the theater of police intervention sometimes plays comedies in which not all spectators laugh at the same moment. Chapter 4 - Violence How a criminal court can offer valuable lessons on excessive use of force by the police in the outer cities. That by not reducing violence to its physical aspect and not limiting the definition of it to the legal sense, one can gain a different understanding of it. That there are many ways of preventing police brutality from being prosecuted Chapter 5 - Discrimination How police officers and sociologists challenge the existence of discriminatory practices that the rest of the French population is convinced prevail. That racist ideas do not automatically lead to discriminatory practices, but that the two are far from incompatible. That institutions show more tolerance toward institutional racism than toward its victims. Chapter 6 - Politics How some signs are not deceiving, but may nevertheless be surprising in a democratic regime. That local practices enjoy great autonomy with respect to national guidelines, but that government policy has some influence on the everyday work of law enforcement. That the corollary of the increasing criminalization of behaviors is an unprecedented casting of the police as victims. Chapter 7 - Morality How police officers disappointed by the justice of the courts began to practice street justice. That jokes in the precinct can prove more serious than is customarily maintained. That a code of ethics is not enough to interpret the ethical forces at work in the behavior of police officers and the moral impasse in which the police find themselves. Conclusion - Democracy How the French police preferred the model of the cop in the United States to the style of the British bobby, and what was the result. That the imposition of the rationale of security has a high social cost for contemporary societies. That the interests of ethnography are intimately bound with those of democracy. Epilogue - Time In which the author looks back to a not-so-distant past, observes that the more things change the more they do not stay the same, wonders about the present as it is experienced by certain segments of French society and ignored by the others, and expresses concerns about the future. Notes Bibliography

About the Author

Didier Fassin is James D. Wolfensohn Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. His previous works include The Empire of Trauma and When Bodies Remember.


Enforcing Order is an intriguing read, not least for whatit reveals about the politics of law and order, and of policing, inFrance in recent times Tim Newburn, LSE, LSE Review of Books "Powerful, distressing and thought-provoking. The book is based on15 months of fieldwork, an undertaking unprecedented in France andone that, as the difficulties of access Fassin encountered suggest,will not be conducted again for some time." Times Higher Education "Fassin s book the most significant contribution tothe public anthropology of policing has opened up space todiscuss the unresolved tension underlying the contemporary state,that between providing security and protecting human rights." Social Anthropology "Fassin has written a brilliant example of public anthropology.This ethnography of the anti-crime squads of the French policepowerfully captures the institutionalization of racism and violenceagainst poor youth and immigrants. His book must reach the widestpossible audience because these paramilitaries operating out ofsight of the general public with the complicity of politicians,career bureaucrats and the courts must be dismantled." Philippe Bourgois, University of Pennsylvania "This vivid description of the daily routines of police squadsoperating in under-privileged Parisian suburbs reinstatesethnography as a powerful tool for revealing how social exclusionworks. By bringing to life, from the point of view of its officers,how the police consolidates social hierarchies, Fassin reminds useloquently that the behavior of its police forces is the best indexof the state of a democracy." Philippe Descola, College de France "A fascinating read a brilliant, deep plunge into thelives, routines, racial tensions, sometimes violence, and intricatemoral reasoning of the police officers in an anti-crime brigade inthe French banlieues during a heated time of rioting in Paris. Itblends a subtle analysis of the moral economy of the police withrigorous ethnographic detail and a genuine honesty or transparencyon Didier Fassin s part. It is a very important contributionto our understanding of police practices in this new age ofsecurity." Bernard Harcourt, University of Chicago

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