The role of culture in police behavior literature, 1953-2006
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Literature examining police behavior published between 1953 and 2006 was analyzed to determine the role culture played in police behavior during different eras. Four areas of cultural influence on police behavior (Socio-Cultural, Occupational, Organizational, and Subcultural) were examined across five decades. The overwhelming majority of the articles (82%) cited dealt with either socio-cultural influences on police behavior or the occupational culture of police. This indicates that the overwhelming majority of scholars who studied the behavior of police during this period found these areas of cultural influence to be most salient. This may also be an indication that the organizational and subcultural variations of police culture are more difficult to measure and the least conducive to being generalized by scholars. Trends in the aspects of broader societal culture which influenced police behavior centered on inequalities in gender, race and class and the cultural patterns for dealing with these issues was a consistent theme. The changes in police behavior tend to reflect the changes in societal views, though the insular and closed social milieu of most police officers results in the changes coming about more slowly in police than in society at large. The occupational culture of policing shifted in many ways in the period studied. The code of silence (i.e. not informing on other cops who engage in misconduct) remained the defining characteristic of this occupational culture, though the more culturally diverse and more educated the police force became the more difficult it became to maintain occupational solidarity. The influences of both organizational culture and subcultures were important in numerous studies, but due to the local and specific nature of these cultural influences on police behavior trends were difficult to determine over the time period and generalities are difficult to arrive by examining these dynamic and important levels of cultural influence.
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