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Reconceptualising The Problem Of Policing Marital Violence: Police Culture Revisited

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Chapter Summary

The concept of police subculture originally emerged from ethnographic studies of police work, which uncovered a layer of informal occupational norms and values operating under the apparently rigid hierarchical structure of the police organisation. The concept of police subculture, however, is loosely defined. Theoretically, the reconceptualisation of police subculture by employing Pierre Bourdieu's distinction between 'habitus' and 'field' emphasises that culture is not free-standing. Bourdieu's concepts of 'habitus' and 'field' are attractive in that they deal with the theoretical and empirical 'gaps' in the way police subculture is historically conceptualised. In this chapter, the two concepts are examined and the advantages of adopting Bourdieu's theory are underlined before charting its theoretical relevance to the problem of policing marital violence in Singapore. The four dimensions of cultural knowledge relevant to the discussion of habitus of street-level policing of domestic violence include: axiomatic knowledge; dictionary knowledge; directory knowledge; and recipe knowledge.

Keywords: cultural knowledge; marital violence; Pierre Bourdieu; police subculture; Singapore



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