VIDEO: Dr Melissa Jardine has a special interest in research and policing in the Global South.
Knowledge about policing has been produced and disseminated unevenly so that our understanding comes from a skewed emphasis on the Western (largely Anglo-American) experience. Whilst such literature usually does not openly declare to be making claims of universal validity, it often does so by implication. Fortunately, more empirical research is being undertaken outside the global North.
The Southern Policing theoretical framework seeks to address weaknesses in current theorising of policing by proposing a Southern Policing perspective (drawing on Southern Theory, Connell, R. & Southern Criminology, Carrington, K. et al). This perspective is also an extension of the interactive model of police culture and practice developed by Chan (1997; Chan et al., 2003) which draws on Bourdieu’s (1990a) conceptualisations of ‘field’ and ‘habitus’ as a relational dynamic.
The framework is useful because it provides flexibility for explaining police practices in both Northern and Southern contexts. It can also account for differences in cultural knowledge and institutionalised practices.
The Southern perspective is not merely a geographic exploration, but a metaphor for colonisation of knowledge which shapes hierarchies of knowledge, its production and dissemination.
A Southern Policing perspective also recognises that capital comes in forms which may depart from those identified in previous studies. By applying a Southern Policing perspective to examining police cultures reveals variations in the field which illustrate that some assumptions about policing do not necessarily hold for a globally inclusive/comprehensive account of policing.
This approach addresses assumptions about relationships between the police, political system, broad societal culture, legal frameworks, organisations, the community, and gender. These variations have to be understood not as deviations from Anglo-American normality but as significant separate practices and traditions of policing from which the North may have something to learn.