Police and the Liberal State (Critical Perspectives on Crime and Law)

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Police and the Liberal State advances a broad interdisciplinary and international project to refocus attention on the scope and function of modern governance through the lens of the police power in its multiple manifestations—from the family to the police station and the prison, and from municipal government to state sovereignty and global security—and techniques—surveillance, control, and licensing, as well as ordinances, regulations, and administrative, constitutional, and criminal law. In the contributions to this volume, police power emerges as a rich and flexible concept that offers a broader functional context to explain the operation of governmental institutions.

The essays reveal connections across the history of government, across systems of government within a particular state, and comparatively, across different states and levels of government.


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The comprehensive scope and boundless ambition of police power, the very characteristics that rest uneasily with traditional conceptions of the liberal state, make it a uniquely useful platform for interdisciplinary and international inquiries into fundamental questions of government and law. Markus D.

Postscript First

The Fabrication of Social Order examines the role of policing in the fabrication of order. After an initial exploration of the original relationship between police, state power and the question of order, Neocleous focuses on the ways in which eighteenth century liberalism refined and narrowed the concept of the police, a process which masked the power of capital and broader issues of social control.

Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press

In doing so he challenges the way liberalism came to define policing solely in terms of the question of crime and the rule of law. This liberal definition created a limited and fundamentally misleading understanding of policing which remains in use today.

In contrast, Neocleous argues for an expanded concept of police, adequate to the expansive set of institutions through which policing takes place. These institutions are concerned not just with the maintenance or reproduction of order, but with its fabrication, especially the fabrication of a social order based on wage labour.

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