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Diversity policing-policing diversity: performing ethnicity in police and private-security work in Sweden

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Hansen Löfstrand, Cecilia; Uhnoo, Sara

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Abstract This article draws upon two separate studies on policing in Sweden, both investigating "ethnic diversity" as a discourse and a practice in the performance of policing functions: one interview study with minority police officers from a county police authority and one ethnographic study of private security officers. To examine how "diversity policing" and the "policing of diversity" are performed by policing actors, their strategic reliance on an ethnically diverse workforce is examined. The official discourse in both contexts stressed "diversity policing" as a valuable resource for the effective execution of policing tasks and the legitimation of policing functions. There was, however, also another, more unofficial discourse on ethnicity that heavily influenced the policing agents' day-to-day work. The resulting practice of "policing diversity" involved situated activities on the ground through which "foreign elements" in the population were policed using ethnicized stereotypes. Diversity in the policing workforce promoted the practice of ethnic matching, which, ironically, in turn perpetuated stereotypical thinking about Swedish "others". A conceptual framework is developed for understanding the policing strategies involved and the disjuncture found between the widely accepted rationalities for recruiting an ethnically diverse workforce and the realities for that workforce's effective deployment at the street level.
Keywords Sweden; police; ethnic structure; stereotype; labor
Classification Criminal Sociology, Sociology of Law; Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnosociology
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 75-87
Journal Social Inclusion, 2 (2014) 3
Issue topic Policing ethnicity: between the rhetoric of inclusion and the policies and practices of exclusion
ISSN 2183-2803
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution