Researching Protest Policing in South Africa: A Discourse Analysis of the Police–Researcher Encounter

Cornell, Josephine and Malherbe, Nick and Seedat, Mohamed and Suffla, Shahnaaz (2022) Researching Protest Policing in South Africa: A Discourse Analysis of the Police–Researcher Encounter. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 17. ISSN 1752-4520

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Researchers have played a significant role in influencing the public’s critical engagement with the South African Police Service (SAPS). Resultantly, SAPS officers tend to be wary and/or untrusting of researchers. In the present study, we sought to understand how this climate of suspicion impacts policing research in South Africa. To do so, we employed a Foucauldian Discourse Analysis on emails leading up to a study with SAPS officers, and on the transcripts of three focus group discussions with SAPS officers. We identified three discursive strategies that SAPS employed: Security Stall (i.e. blocking research through bureaucratic procedure), Eliciting Sympathy (i.e. winning sympathy for the struggles of SAPS officers) and Undermining the Researcher Subjectivity (i.e. rendering legitimate knowledge on protest violence the sole product of police officers). These strategies destabilize police research while challenging the broader discursive terrain within which SAPS is located. We conclude by offering some insights for police research.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
28 August 2022Accepted
6 December 2022Published Online
Subjects: CAH00 - multidisciplinary > CAH00-00 - multidisciplinary > CAH00-00-00 - multidisciplinary
CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-05 - others in psychology
CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-01 - social sciences (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > College of Psychology
Depositing User: Josephine Cornell
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2023 10:40
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 13:02

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