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The Police on Skid-Row: A Study of Peace Keeping

Egon Bittner
American Sociological Review
Vol. 32, No. 5 (Oct., 1967), pp. 699-715
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2092019
Page Count: 17
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The Police on Skid-Row: A Study of Peace Keeping
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Abstract

Following the distinction proposed by Banton, police work consists of two relatively different activities: "law enforcement" and "keeping the peace." The latter is not determined by a clear legal mandate and does not stand under any system of external control. Instead, it developed as a craft in response to a variety of demand conditions. One such condition is created by the concentration of certain types of persons on skid-row. Patrolmen have a particular conception of the social order of skid-row life that determines the procedures of control they employ. The most conspicuous features of the peace keeping methods used are an aggressively personalized approach to residents, an attenuated regard for questions of culpability, and the use of coercion, mainly in the interest of managing situations rather than persons.

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