Self-policing and the policing of the self: Violence, protection and the civilizing bargain in Britain

Wood, J. Carter (2003). Self-policing and the policing of the self: Violence, protection and the civilizing bargain in Britain. Crime, History and Societies, 7(1) pp. 109–128.

URL: http://sumaris.cbuc.es/cgis/sumari.cgi?issn=142208...

Abstract

In Britain, recent years have seen increasing criticism of police ineffectiveness, high-profile incidents of vigilantism and interest in alternatives to traditional policing. In light of these trends, this article first considers nineteenth-century community "self-policing," which ordered social relations according to a more diffuse distribution of acceptable violence. Second, it addresses the expansion of the state monopoly on violence and its accompanying expectation of more elaborate individual self-control, a "policing of the self." Third, it suggests ways that the civilizing process can, in certain contexts, generate tensions if this "civilizing bargain" — exchanging self-policing for state protection — fails to meet community expectations.

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