Policing New Risks in Modern European History

Abstract : Authorities often fear societal change as it implies finding a new balance to live together within society. Whether it is defined by economic, political, social or cultural factors, the transformation of life in society is considered by authorities as a “risk” that needs to be framed and controlled. New social groups as well as new behaviours inspire great fears, while being at the heart of the evolutional process of society. In this context, the state's response to this situation of transformation can be analysed through the prism of the police. Informally or not, police systems adapt their regulatory frameworks, their structures and their practices in order to respond risks, new threats and new rules they face and are entitled to deal with. In the face of the “danger” that is sometimes overstated in the public sphere, the logics of the police, but also the judicial system, political and public authorities participate to redefining the meaning and the identity of police work (structural adaptations, professionalization, practices, new equipment’s, etc.) and the stakes of exercising police functions (repression, surveillance, guidance, etc.) against the (f)actors of change. This process, which is mostly of a contemporary nature, is also deeply historic. It goes hand in hand with regulating life in society. Analysing it on the long run is therefore particularly relevant. From the late 19th century until the second half of the 20th century, what are the police's evolutional dynamics in the face of the “threats”/”risks” inherent to societal transformations? In a sociohistorical perspective, the aim of this book is to provide a panorama of political and police reactions to the “risks” of societal change in a Western European perspective (Belgium, France, The Netherlands but also Colonial perspective). To this end, we multiply focuses on representative cases of these dynamics of adaptations, by crossing normal and exceptional situations. We thereby lay stress on the recent historiographic abundance related to the police, as well as on the new fields of study, hitherto unknown sources and specific methods related to this renewal of approach.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 12, 2018 - 3:00:44 PM
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Jonas Campion, Xavier Rousseaux. Policing New Risks in Modern European History. Palgrave MacMillan, 2015, 9781137544025. ⟨hal-01836788⟩

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