Police and Power: A Practical Theory

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Abstract

Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(11), 905–907. Reviews the book, Police: Streetcorner Politicians by William Ker Muir, Jr. (1977). This book deals with police, but it is unbelievably multifaceted. It reports research results, unfolds a theory, creates a taxonomy, and addresses issues of public policy. At another level, this book is a study of human responses to the component of power in interpersonal transactions. Power, in this context, is not only coercive capability, such as that of the police, but also the less obvious power of police targets–the threats potentially exercised by the coerced in their responses to coercion. This book is political science because the power dimension occupies center stage We know that uses of power, and reactions to it, are definable as political behavior, hence the subtitle of the book. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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