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Race, Riots and Policing: Lore and Disorder in a Multi- Racist Society

NCJ Number
M Keith
Date Published
288 pages
This study examines the processes by which police-black conflict in England have become built into the institutional fabric of contemporary police work and become a part of the daily practice of policing and the daily experiences of black communities.
Following an overview of the themes of the book, a chapter looks briefly at just a few of the incidents and trends that have lent the conflict between police and black communities historical depth and particular location. The second part of the book re- examines the disorders of 1981 that placed rioting on the political agenda for the following decade. Part Two of the book shows that in 1981 the incidence of violent disorder created a moral panic in which a set of common-sense understandings about the nature of violent conflict was just as important in determining the way people reacted as the events and processes that generated the riots. People conceptualized rioting as a form of pathological contagion, commonly associated with black communities, a contagion that threatened to spread from those points at which disorder had first erupted. One chapter provides an alternative conceptualization of the events, as it provides both an empirical description of the 1981 events in London and an outline of the key theoretical problems that complicate alternative conceptualizations of these events. Part Three focuses on the manner in which the depth, sincerity, and significance of antagonism between the police and British black communities is embedded in the histories of particular communities. The analysis is based on ethnographic work conducted in the second half of the 1980s. The final part of the book shows that a series of policies that have sustained the systematic racial subordination of one class of British citizens have become built into the daily routine of British policing and yet are understood as a normal facet of daily life. A 390-item bibliography and author and subject indexes