Interaction rituals, performance and police-public encounters

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A key orientation of the microsociology of Collins (drawing on Durkheim and Goffman) is that it is the focused performances of situated interactions, or ‘encounters’, that need to be the centre of analysis, not ‘the individual’. It is in the moment of the encounter that structure and agency coalesce, and are performed and negotiated. As such, it is through encounters that self and collective identities are forged and given meaning, both successful and failed encounters being potential moments of high emotion and real and symbolic import to participants, marking confirmation or refutation of status and social membership. Where criminology has touched upon ritual theory it has more often been in the context of formal organised rites, such as the degradation ceremony of the court, rather than in the more informal, everyday situated encounters and experiences that are at the heart of interaction ritual theory. This paper uses ritual theory to revisit and revise thinking on the symbolic dimensions of policing, and to explore police-public encounters as moments of recognition or denunciation that have serious consequences for citizens and officers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2018
Event18th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology - University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Duration: 29 Aug 20181 Sep 2018


Conference18th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology
Country/TerritoryBosnia and Herzegovina


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