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Q: How would you describe police culture?
A: Policing, as an occupation, has often been described as hours of boredom, followed by minutes of sheer terror. [ In any occupation where such extremes exist, it is necessary to have cultural characteristics which reinforce the collective and impersonal nature of the work. Cultural characteristics are the man-made aspects of social organization, as distinct from structural institutions, but
both structure and culture influence personality and behavior. Much of social science is devoted to the study of structural institutions (e.g., family, economy, polity) and the ways in which they influence human awareness and/or determine behavior (invisibly, in the background, as motivators, in determining needs and interests). Culture, however, can also operate invisibly (at a deeper, almost mythic or subconscious level), but because culture is always still under control (often phrased as culture always "being in the making"), there ought to be highly visible and highly symbolic aspects of it. These bright shiny aspects of culture are what make it worthy of study, and most people know them as "traditions" which are just taken for granted. To define culture is to embrace a word with multiple meanings. The first meaning or definition, according to Brooker (2003), is that culture consists of those intellectual and/or artistic practices which define an epoch, period, social group, nation, or society as being socially constructed (man-made) and not just formed naturally. In this sense, culture is the mark that man has made upon the world. Hence, it is common to talk about "ethnic" or "modern" cultures, depending upon which ethnic group or which technology has made the most impact. Think of it as the way world historians sometimes classify the Iron Age or Bronze Age. The second meaning, again according to Brooker (2003) is that culture consists of those shared assumptions which have an active, shaping influence upon ideas, attitudes, and experience. ]
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Asked 7/21/2011 11:13:17 AM
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