Interaction rituals and 'police' encounters: New challenges for interactionist police sociology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Interactionist police sociology is in need of revision and extension in the face of profound change in policing, society, and in the very nature of ‘interaction’. The argument draws upon interaction ritual theory, a micro-sociological perspective that explores social life, and feelings of belonging and solidarity, as outcomes of encounters between people. Two tenets of the theory – that successful encounters produce emotional energy that creates bonds of solidarity, and that they require physical co-presence of human participants to work in this way – are being revised in the light of new empirical work exploring interaction with ‘others’ in a variety of new forms. The effect of this work is to provoke reassessment of what ‘counts’ as an encounter, and to question the nature and sources of solidarity in an age when face-to-face physical co-presence is in decline. These features of interaction ritual theory are developed through three purposively-selected, illustrative applications of it to policing: police as reproducers of order; policing as information brokering; and, the changing landscape of security encounters. The article opens up new questions and objects of study for interactionist police research that are fit for the empirical realities of contemporary policing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPolicing and Society
Early online date9 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • ritual
  • encounter
  • solidarity
  • order
  • policing


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