Beyond cop culture: the cultural challenge of civilian intelligence analysis in Scottish policing

Atkinson, Colin (2013) Beyond cop culture: the cultural challenge of civilian intelligence analysis in Scottish policing. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The central contention of this thesis, and its original contribution to the subject area, is that the recent development of civilian intelligence analysis in Scottish policing presents a challenge to an otherwise hegemonic ‘cop culture’ in police intelligence work. In advancing this argument this thesis develops the existing literature by recognising that academic research to date on ‘police culture’ has focused almost exclusively on the cultures of sworn police officers, and particularly those ‘cops’ engaged in ‘frontline’ policing. Civilian police staff groups have been excluded from existing cultural accounts, despite their long-established position in many police forces, particularly those in Scotland.

Drawing upon five years of qualitative sociological fieldwork, and taking inspiration from the theory and research of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, this thesis highlights how civilian intelligence analysts – as office-based, young, predominantly female and embodying a new ‘academic’ knowledge that is divorced from experience – have become increasingly essential to the effective functioning of intelligence-led policing. The integration of civilian intelligence analysis into police intelligence work in Scotland, however, is inhibited by the persistent hegemony of a cop culture that privileges masculinity, physicality, solidarity, cynicism and, above all, the experiential knowledge that the ‘crime-fighting’ cop has gained from policing ‘the streets’.

The cultural challenge of civilian intelligence analysis, emerging from within wider processes of civilianisation and pluralisation, has provoked a patriarchal response from police officers. This response is characterised by masculine domination and the exertion of symbolic violence within the wider ideological construction of the ‘police family’. This patriarchal response has also contributed to the infantilisation of the intelligence analyst in Scottish policing, as a concomitant form of cultural control. The interplay of these processes of cultural challenge and control contributes to a phenomenon of cultural dissonance – a sense of difference, discord and disharmony – between police officers and intelligence analysts. This cultural dissonance is sustained in everyday practice through the perpetuation and persistence of a ‘them and us’ culture between these groups.

This thesis concludes by exploring the future of intelligence analysis in the context of profound and on-going organisational reform, and in doing so identifies recent processes of de-civilianisation in Scottish policing. Although intelligence analysis has remained relatively insulated from de-civilianisation to date, fieldwork disclosed how there has emerged disquiet about the potential diversification of the intelligence analyst role and concern for the future position of the intelligence analyst in Scottish policing as it enters a new phase in its distinctive development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Police, policing, intelligence, intelligence-led policing, intelligence analysis, culture, cop culture, Bourdieu, habitus, cultural capital, symbolic violence, civilianisation, gender, patriarchy, infantilisation, de-civilianisation.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Armstrong, Dr. Sarah
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4662
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2013 10:26
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2016 15:21

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