4 December 2020

On the Workaday Origin of Police Callousness

Photo: Chris Henry/Unsplash
Photo: Chris Henry/Unsplash

Postdoc David Sausdal has contributed to ‘Exertions’, the short-form web publication of the Society for the Anthropology of Work, with the essay ‘On the Workaday Origin of Police Callousness’.

The essay discusses how police misconduct and violence cannot be understood in straightforwardly individual or structural terms only, but are also caused by certain workaday tasks and practices.

In the essay, Sausdal suggests that current theories could do with a better grounding in the particularities of police officers’ workaday lives. He recommends that more attention should be paid to how everyday police work can be made more meaningful from the police officer’s viewpoint.

“How can we help officers to see suspects as more than criminal, beyond the occasional sensitivity training or executive dictum? Or, better, how can daily police work be organized so that it involves not a simplification but a humanization of those who are policed?” he asks.

Read the full essay (open access): On the Workaday Origin of Police Callousness