Masculinity as Governance: Police, Public Service and the Embodiment of Authority, c. 1700–1850 [chapter]

Francis Dodsworth
2007 Public Men  
Policing has traditionally been considered as a masculine task, which has had significant and often detrimental consequences for the introduction and reception of women into police forces and the nature and practice of the police role more generally. 2 It is commonly assumed that the link between masculinity and policing is a 'natural' one, related to the physical nature of the tasks central to police work. In this chapter I argue that the link between masculinity and policing emerged not
more » ... because it was a natural association in a job that was physically arduous and often dangerous, but because there is also a long-standing link between a certain vision of manly independence and public, civil authority in British political discourse. This was particularly important in the legitimization of a new form of institutional policing in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when the traditional system of police based on the rotation of unpaid offices amongst local gentlemen was replaced with a paid, hierarchical alternative staffed by men of lower social status. 3 In focusing on the relationship between masculinity, government and institutionalization in this period I want to say something broader about the emergence and nature of 'bureaucracy' as it applies to policing and its relation to the system of rule that preceded it, as well as pointing to the relatively unexplored links between institutional form and politics. There is a tendency in much historical work to see the emergence of hierarchical, bureaucratic government as a process of 'modernization' or increasing government rationalization. It should be clear from this chapter that rather than replacing a 'customary' system based on symbolic values with one based around reason in many senses the creation of policing organizations seems
doi:10.1007/978-1-349-58289-1_3 fatcat:sjlct5ba7vgtvcqjcfk4dc3ggm