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How institutional contexts shape police-adolescent encounters. A study of France and Germany

Published onMay 25, 2022
How institutional contexts shape police-adolescent encounters. A study of France and Germany
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How institutional contexts shape police-adolescent encounters. A study of France and Germany
Description

In a French-German study including a large survey of adolescents in four cities, we analyze the interaction patterns during stops. Based on the respondents’ reports of their last experience of a police stop/encounter, we look at the likelihood that they assessed the interaction as respectful or disrespectful, conflictual or even violent, and how either the police officers’ or their own behaviour contributed to this outcome. The comparative design of the survey allows us to examine differences in the institutional patterns of use of force during stops of adolescents by the French and German police (where, when, against which groups). Using multilevel regression analyses, we compare the individual and spatial predictors of disrespectful or violent interactions, in particular with regard to ethnicity and urban segregation in the two countries. While discrimination in the selection of targets is found in France, it is not in Germany. In addition, interactions are much more frequently reported as disrespectful and violent by French compared to German adolescents. These results align with previous research showing that France has a more confrontational policing pattern of work, with more stops, more racial profiling and more tensions during stops. We contend that an institutional theory of policing (ITP) is needed to account for the repeatedly found differences in how much force is used and how it relates to the use of stops and their modalities across the two states. We propose that ITP is made of the ‘pillars of institutional order’ as a theoretical framework for explaining those differences in police practices.

 

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