Visible Policing: Uniforms and the (Re)Construction of Police Occupational Identity

Rowe, Michael (2023) Visible Policing: Uniforms and the (Re)Construction of Police Occupational Identity. Policing and Society, 33 (2). pp. 222-237. ISSN 1043-9463

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This article contributes to contemporary criminological debates on police visibility by exploring the relationship between police uniforms, artefacts and occupational identity. The article is influenced by visual criminology and semiotics and draws on elicitation interviews with officers and staff from four English police services. Participants were asked to bring with them an object or image that they identified as being an important expression of their occupational identity, which was then discussed. Most often objects or images were associated with their uniform. Findings are presented in relation to the visual symbolism, iconography and performativity of uniforms and related material artefacts. Participants drew upon visual representations in making sense of positive and negative aspects of their role and in defending their occupational identity in the light of perceived external challenges, such as reductions in police numbers and threats of violence and danger. It is argued that the communicative properties of this material culture play an important symbolic role in the self-legitimation and professional identity of police work.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council [R011885/1].
Uncontrolled Keywords: Visible policing, police culture, policework, uniforms
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2022 12:02
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2023 13:45

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