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And the Heat Goes On: Police Repression and the Modalities of Power

Liu, Howard and Sullivan, Christopher M (2021) 'And the Heat Goes On: Police Repression and the Modalities of Power.' Journal of Conflict Resolution. ISSN 0022-0027

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Abstract

Among security institutions, police occupy a unique position. In addition to specializing in the repression of dissent, police monitor society and enforce order. Yet within research studying state repression, how police institutions are used and deployed to control domestic threats remain under-explored, particularly as it relates to the dual functionality just described. In this study, we develop and test an explanation of police repression accounting for the bifurcation of Mann’s two modalities of state power: infrastructural power and despotic power. Infrastructural power allocates police resources to surveil dissidents and preemptively limit dissent’s emergence or escalation. Police deploy despotic power through repressive responses to political threats. Empirically, we employ unique data to investigate police repression and the modalities of power in Guatemala. To analyze how shifting the balance between infrastructural and despotic power affects police repression, we isolate damage occurring from an earthquake that exogenously reshaped the landscape of infrastructural power. Results affirm the role of infrastructural power in regulating the despotic power of the state. Where local infrastructure was most affected by the earthquake, the security apparatus lost the capacity to surveil nascent movements and predict their activity, thereby providing opportunity for dissidents to mobilize and forcing police to (over-)react rather than shutdown resistance preemptively. However, the intensity of state violence recedes as the state recovers from the infrastructural damage and regains its control of local district.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: policing, repression, political order, conflict
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 26 May 2021 09:26
Last Modified: 26 May 2021 10:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30419

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