Out and about : a study of policework in Palmerston North : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the degree of Master of Arts in Sociology at Massey University

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Massey University
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This study offers a new conception of policework. It does so by utilizing Foucault's idea of knowledge as power in an empirical examination of front-line policework. Rethinking policework in this sense necessitates a break with the orthodox view of the police as 'the law' and instead, this study considers that knowledge/power relations might form a fundamental component of policework. It shows how such relations reinforce one another and inform the routine work of the police. In contrast to reactive law enforcement which targets crime, knowledge/power forms a generalized pro-active power which operates to induce compliance and order relations. Knowledge/power works through the implementation of surveillance, normalizing judgements and the examination, to provide what Foucault calls 'the technology of discipline'. In rejecting the view of policework as a narrow response to crime, a major methodological issue lies in specifying the rationality of productive power. To this end, Foucault provides the necessary guidelines to recognize and understand the workings of power: power should be seen as creative and should be sought in its own field. aside from the state or law. Far from being repressive or a form of domination, power should be seen as discreet with decidedly humanist tendencies. These insights form a framework for the study of policework and power. The fieldwork period of the study covered a time-span of eight weeks during which material was gathered through interviews and by observing police activities in Palmerston North. This permitted a structural interpretation of power and social practices and opened the way for fresh theoretical perspectives on the subject of policework. The findings of this study support Foucault's view that policework is not merely repressive and limited to law. This study portrays policework as productive with an unlimited capacity to manage social behaviour and relations.
Evaluation, Attitudes, Police, New Zealand, Palmerston North