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Shaping professional connections with the locals – Strategizing discretionary police work

Conference contribution
Authors Bertil Rolandsson
Published in ISA RC52 | Interim Meeting 2019, Florence, Italy
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Urban Safety and Societal Security Research Center/URBSEC (GU)
Language en
Links https://www.dsps.unifi.it/upload/su...
Subject categories Public Administration Studies, Work Sciences, Sociology

Abstract

This paper engages in public reforms, aiming to tackle negative consequences of new public management (NPM) by both centralizing management and strengthening civil servants’ discretionary power in local practices (Lundgren-Sörli and Larsson, 2018). By investigating the police reform in Sweden, and how police officers strategically tackle partly strain societal and organizational demands for local policing, the paper complements previous research investigating primarily how broader managerial conditions constrain discretionary autonomy. In focus is how police officers assess the professional value of different connections with citizens and local communities (Friedson, 2001), as well as their ability to manage these connections with discretion. The study encompasses 40 interviews conducted with police officers and municipal actors involved in partnerships with the police. They all represent strategically chosen police districts in Sweden (big city districts, rural districts, as well as districts struck by extensive criminality) recognized by different demands on police officers’ ability to apply discretion in connections with the local community. Theoretically, the analysis draws on the strategy-aspractice perspective (Whittington, 2006), allowing the study to investigate how the police officers in practice, strategize different local connections in relation to both organizational and broader normative demands on discretion. The results show how different strategies guide the police officers when they assess their own discretionary ability to connect with citizens and local communities.

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