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You Can't Rent a Cop: Mall Security Officers' Management of a "Stigmatized" Occupation

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 19 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 196-210
John Manzo
Date Published
July 2006
15 pages
This study examined how security officers in three Canadian shopping malls viewed their work, with attention to whether they perceived their occupation as stigmatized and how they managed public perceptions of themselves and their work.
The study found that in no case did the security officers interviewed suggest that they were in a stigmatized occupation. Their open-ended responses to interview questions did not show any acceptance of a stigmatized status for themselves or their occupation. When questioned about negative perceptions of their occupational status, the officers indicated that they believed their work to be similar to that of the work of public police. In drawing this comparison, the mall security officers commented that public as well as private police regularly have contact interaction with individuals who are disrespectful. They acknowledged that they confront such people regularly in their work; however, none of the officers attributed this to any widespread disrespect for their occupation or any inherent characteristics of their work. The officers never gave any indication in their responses that they had internalized negative images of their occupational status such that they themselves held demeaning self-concepts of their work. They held steadfastly to the belief that their work was important and that part of that work was dealing with disrespectful individuals. This research indicates the importance of structuring research questions so the respondents have an opportunity in their responses to counter any bias or presumptions in the questions. The interviewees were four retail managers, three security managers, and seven security officers from two urban and one suburban mall. Interviews were open-ended, and questions were tailored to the work of the person being interviewed. 1 table and 24 references