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The Politics of the Police

The Politics of the Police (5th edn)

Benjamin Bowling, Robert Reiner, and James W E Sheptycki
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date: 02 June 2023

p. 1648. Cop cultureslocked

p. 1648. Cop cultureslocked

  • Benjamin Bowling, Benjamin BowlingProfessor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Kings College London
  • Robert ReinerRobert ReinerEmeritus Professor of Criminology, The London School of Economics and Political Science
  •  and James SheptyckiJames SheptyckiProfessor of Criminology, York University, Toronto, Canada


This chapter critically examines the concept of cop culture, that is, the world view and perspectives of police officers. It considers the core characteristics of police culture portrayed in empirical studies at many different places and times, relating them to the danger and authority associated with the police role. It then discusses the themes of mission, hedonistic love of action, and pessimistic cynicism that characterize policework and how they relate to other facets of cop culture such as suspicion, isolation/solidarity, and conservatism. Finally, it analyses variations in cop culture and in organizational culture. The fundamental argument is that the structural features of the police role in liberal democratic societies generate tensions and the cultural perspectives that enable police to cope with them, although these have negative features reflecting the fundamental patterns of social injustice and inequality.

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