The Repression Dilemma: The Politics of Policing in Multi-ethnic Societies Open Access

Curtice, Travis (Summer 2020)

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Policing in non-democracies is puzzling. On one hand, police are the institution responsible for providing law and order as a public good, ensuring the safety and security of the state. In this capacity, police must be able to solicit information and cooperation from the communities they are protecting to provide safety and security. On the other hand, police in non-democracies are the security agents tasked with everyday acts of repression to deter dissent, ensuring control for political authorities. Individual officer's willingness to repress depends on whether their preferences are aligned with the community or the political authorities. Examining the politics of repression and its direct and in-direct effects on civilian-police interactions, I provide a theoretical and empirical examination of i) the effects of repression on public perceptions of the police; ii) the role of in-group bias in shaping patterns of cooperation; and iii) the implications of repression for crime and social order. I argue that repression affects support for the police and has a conditional effect on co-ethnic bias, which undermines the provision of law and order. I demonstrate that repression by the police and actions political authorities take to ensure police are willing to comply with orders to repress affect how people view the police, decreasing support for police and citizens' cooperation in the provision of law and order and weakening the ability of states to deter crime and provide security. 

Table of Contents

Introduction Theory: The Politics of Repression and Policing Brief History of Policing in Uganda How Repression Affects Public Perceptions of Police Incumbent Support, Cooperation, and Crime Fear of Reporting to Outsiders: Evidence from a List Experiment Police and Co-ethnic Bias: Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment Conclusion


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