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Streetcorner Politicians

"This book . . . examines the problem of police corruption . . . in such a way that the stereotype of the crude, greedy cop who is basically a grown-up delinquent, if not an out-and-out robber, yields to portraits of particular men, often of earnest good will and even more than ordinary compassion, contending with an enormously demanding and challenging job."—Robert Coles, New Yorker

"Other social scientists have observed policemen on patrol, or have interviewed them systematically. Professor Muir has brought the two together, and, because of the philosophical depth he brings to his commentaries, he has lifted the sociology of the police on to a new level. He has both observed the men and talked with them at length about their personal lives, their conceptions of society and of the place of criminals within it. His ambition is to define the good policeman and to explain his development, but his achievement is to illuminate the philosophical and occupational maturation of patrol officers in ’Laconia’ (a pseudonym) . . . . His discussions of [the policemen’s] moral development are threaded through with analytically suggestive formulations that bespeak a wisdom very rarely encountered in reports of sociological research."—Michael Banton, Times Literary Supplement

313 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1977

Political Science: American Government and Politics

Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work

Table of Contents

1. The Problem of Coercive Power
1. "What is a Good Policeman?"
2. Four Policemen
3. The Extortionate Transaction
4. The Professional Political Model of the Good Policeman
2. The Four Paradoxes of Coercive Behavior
5. The Paradox of Dispossession: Skid Row at Night
6. The Paradox of Detachment: The Family Beef
7. The Paradox of Face: The Crowd Scene
8. The Paradox of Irrationality: The Juvenile Caper
9. The Responses to the Four Paradoxes of Coercive Power
3. The Development of Policemen
10. The Development of Understanding
11. The Development of Morality
12. Causing Professionalism
4. Implications
13. The Chief’s Choices
14. Does Coercive Power Tend to Corrupt?
Methodological Note
Bibliographical Essay

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