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Disputes standard explanations of police brutality against minority citizens to offer new insights and suggestions on dealing with this problem.
What causes police brutality, and why are minority citizens the primary victims? Social scientists often attribute the behavior to poorly managed police departments, bad cops, or the interests of the powerful in controlling minorities perceived as criminal threats. Malcolm D. Holmes and Brad W. Smith contend that these explanations fail to identify key causes of police misconduct, particularly the use of excessive force. Focusing on the interaction of ordinary social-psychological processes and the disadvantaged conditions of minority neighborhoods, Holmes and Smith develop an integrated model of police brutality that takes into account contemporary theory and research on social identity, stereotypes, and emotions—factors that produce intergroup tensions and may trigger unwarranted acts of aggression. Their approach overcomes existing theoretical difficulties and raises the question of how this complex social problem might be effectively addressed.
“In Race and Police Brutality, Malcolm D. Holmes and Brad W. Smith provide a fresh and reinvigorating look at police brutality, quite successfully synthesizing a new theoretical perspective by drawing on empirical research from multiple disciplines.” — Journal of American Ethnic History
“This well-written and thoughtful book represents an excellent blending of sociological, social-psychological, and traditional criminological research traditions and perspectives. I am hard pressed to name any other book that is completely comparable in terms of the breadth and depth of its coverage of its topic, and it is a groundbreaker of sorts, especially in terms of its updating of the literature. It will be a quick reference for those doing research on race and brutality issues.” — Darnell F. Hawkins, editor of Ethnicity, Race, and Crime: Perspectives Across Time and Place
“A model of theoretical synthesis, sound and thorough research, and clear writing, this book would be appropriate for courses in police studies, criminology, race, and even research methods.” — Norman Weiner, State University of New York at Oswego
Malcolm D. Holmes is Professor of Sociology at the University of Wyoming, and Brad W. Smith is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Wayne State University.
Table of Contents
1. THE NATURE OF POLICE BRUTALITY
What Is Police Brutality?
How Can Police Brutality Be Explained?
Outline of an Alternative Theory
2. SOCIAL THREAT AND POLICE VIOLENCE
Police Organization and Police Violence in American History
Police-Minority Conflicts and Police Violence
3. SOCIAL IDENTITY AND INGROUP BIAS
Cognitive Perspectives on Intergroup Relations
The Social Identity Model
Social Identity and Policing
Racial and Ethnic Identity
Social Identity and Police-Minority Relations
4. STEREOTYPING AND OUTGROUP BIAS
The Information Processing Model
Cultural Stereotypes of Race and Crime
Stereotyping and the Working Personality of the Police Officer
Minority Stereotypes of Police
Stereotypes and Police-Minority Relations
5. THE EMOTIONAL ROOTS OF INTERGROUP RELATIONS
The Nature of Human Emotions
The Emotions of the Police
The Emotions of Minority Citizens
Emotion and Cognition in Police-Minority Relations
6. TRANSLATING INTERGROUP BIASES INTO INTERGROUP AGGRESSION
The Dimensions of Intergroup Relations
The Emotional and Cognitive Foundation of Aggression
The Inseparability of Emotional and Cognitive Responses
7. A SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, AND COGNITIVE THEORY OF EXCESSIVE FORCE
Background Variables and Psychological Preconditions
Threatening Situations and Mental Responses
Mediators of Police Brutality
Is Police Brutality Inevitable?
8. CAN POPULAR POLICIES REDUCE POLICE BRUTALITY?
Changing Police Organizations to Change Police Behavior
Prospects for Organizational Reforms