Critical Thinking Essay on Ethnography of Urban Policing

Published: 2021-07-22
1001 words
4 pages
9 min to read
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
Critical thinking
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Law order and urban policing is something that most people view as unethically practiced law enforcement process. For that reason, the ethnography on urban policing research done by Fassin (2013) in France after an analysis that showed that police officers had gone beyond the sole purpose of their duties. It was reported that instead of officers serving people with ethical reasoning, they forceful and crude means to restore order. In this article, I am going to analyze the ethnographic research questions, the research tools, findings and a conclusion on the results.

Research questions

1. Policing is comical and dull, so what is the need for harsh policing tactics when there is an epiphany?

2. Why and how the daily responsibility of the police is taken far from the initial image, they joined it within the forces and the ways they maintain their illusion about it.

3. How did war imagination come to an establishment of the current relationship between projects, the police and the justification of operation?

4. Why and how the officers who were disappointed by court injustices began to make justice in the streets and how they initiated tension in their professional ethics.

5. How do social scientists offer a challenge to the existing practices of discrimination and reasons why racism is beyond personal behavior.

Theoretical Approach

Fassin (2013) questioned the stereotype of police functions of just being the general order and crime fighters. He focused on the fact that police officers come from families that are not among the underprivileged hence they treat any demonstration as a crime related one. The reason why police officers go beyond an ordinary search warrant, for example, the traffic police is that they consider anybody to be a criminal since the kind of life they were brought up in was from the privileged families. All the actions taken by police on the underprivileged is usually considered as a way of maintaining order in the nations but in the real sense is a form of harassment. According to Fassin, the stereotype that the underprivileged form a group of criminals and bastards is because of at least 4-5 of the recruits is from abled families hence do not understand the problems and experiences of the underprivileged. It is so devastating that police officers handle the disadvantaged harshly with lengthy interrogations and harsh frisk measures (Fassin, 2013).

Research methods

He applied grounded theory, classical narratology ethnography, and storytelling to gather enough data. It is a qualitative ethnographic study of the sociological aspects of people living in urban centers. He employed market research, observation of peoples interactions in market centers, interrogation of the individuals involved in policing practices and a detailed study of demonstrators. The analysis of the data and conclusions were done by sociologists, psychologist and other ways of making conclusions. Another strategy was to accompany police in their vans but was not allowed to tape record (Fassin, 2013).

Findings of the Research

The results of the research were outlined that most police officers overuse their powers mostly on the marginalized groups living in banlieues, i.e., the suburbs of the major cities. The police responsibility changed ever since they joined the forces and realized that they come from high class and abled families to the point of forgetting the problems that the poor and those in the suburbs pass through. He found out that the court has severe consequences for police failure to carry out their duties seriously and thats why most police try to cover up their mistakes by harassing the impoverished people in the society like immigrants, blacks and other people from lower class areas where they suspect crime to emerge from. For instance, he found out that it was normal for police officers to harass all black youths in the city by emptying their pockets and asking them their credentials. Most of the harsh enforcement is racial since police harass immigrants by unnecessary searches.

Most police were found to have moral violence since they failed to consider personhood and dignity of individuals who were stopped for checks and searches. Moreover, Fassin discovered that the police policing methods were full of comical epiphanies which were more of a comedic nature since after failing to carry out their duties effectively, they stage managed most incidents to spare them the blame (Fassin, 2013).

Some of the police officers try to maintain their quest of becoming superheroes by carrying out their tasks carelessly hence injuring or showing too much power in their operation. He talked about most police drive casually as a way of responding to a minor emergency.

Strengths and weaknesses of the research (Fassin, 2013).

The strengths of the research are that he met people individually, observed the reactions of individuals during a search warrant and took part in the survey personally. Also, he analyzed the anti-squad crimes, the emergency unit and all the police units that were acting at all possible places of need. He was also present at the places before most of the police realized his survey.

The weakness of Fassins research is that he was letter discovered to be a researcher about police acts on human and the fishy acts of police policing hence most of the police who found his role could have overshadowed their ways of handling people. Secondly, the research was done in the suburbs only hence the findings must have some bias. Another weakness is the bias in Fassins general knowledge since he is a human and he might rely on one-sided assumptions.

If I could see an ethnographer, I could not let the police to notice my survey and research to capture all details unnoticed. Secondly, I could look for some other ethnographers to help me in the study in at least three different public centers involving people of all social class.

The City life and this ethnography intersect since most surveillance is usually situated in urban areas where various cultural groups are located. Secondly, it is in urban areas where any suspect or mischiefs often happen.


Fassin, D. (2013). Enforcing order: An ethnography of urban policing. Polity.


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