Police are Our Government: Politics, Political Science, and the Policing of Race–Class Subjugated Communities

Posted: 15 May 2017

See all articles by Joe Soss

Joe Soss

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

Vesla Weaver

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

Against the backdrop of Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, we ask what the American politics subfield has to say about the political lives of communities subjugated by race and class. We argue that mainstream research in this subfield—framed by images of representative democracy and Marshallian citizenship—has provided a rich portrait of what such communities lack in political life. Indeed, by focusing so effectively on their political marginalization, political scientists have ironically made such communities marginal to the subfield’s account of American democracy and citizenship. In this article, we provide a corrective by focusing on what is present in the political lives of such communities. To redress the current imbalance and advance the understandings of race and class in American politics, we argue that studies of the liberal-democratic “first face” of the state must be complemented by greater attention to the state’s more controlling “second face.” Focusing on policing, we seek to unsettle the mainstream of a subfield that rarely inquires into governmental practices of social control and the ways “race-class subjugated communities” are governed through coercion, containment, repression, surveillance, regulation, predation, discipline, and violence.

Suggested Citation

Soss, Joe and Weaver, Vesla, Police are Our Government: Politics, Political Science, and the Policing of Race–Class Subjugated Communities (May 2017). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 20, pp. 565-591, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2968086 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-060415-093825

Joe Soss (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs ( email )

301 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Vesla Weaver

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://veslaweaver.wordpress.com

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