Sociology Index


Police culture is an example of an occupational culture to which new recruits become socialized through socialization. It is thought that police culture is one of several demand characteristics which shape routine decision-making by the police. The term police culture can refer to several different aspects of policing.

It can refer to the us versus them attitude that is attributed to police forces almost everywhere, whereby "them" can be variously meant society at large, criminals and also senior police officials. Police culture can also refer to police attitudes towards the use of their discretionary powers, especially where the end is thought to justify the means, like unlawful searches and excessive use of force.

Finally, Police culture can refer to the strong feeling of loyalty towards and social solidarity with fellow officers, a feeling which goes beyond what is normally encountered among employees, even other professionals. I use police culture in this last sense. Police Culture and the "Code Of Silence" By John Westwood, Ph.D.

A Brief Discussion of Police Culture and How It Affects Police Responses to Internal Investigations and Civilian Oversight.

While most elements of police culture are universal, each agency possesses its own personal and distinctive organizational culture. What is police culture? According to McDonald, the concept of police culture is comprised of the merging of the image of impartial and professional crime fighters that the police have of themselves, and a system of belief and behavior not described in agency values statements. This definition, while not necessarily identifying a compelling positive element, does recognize more than just the negative.

All police officers must accept a higher standard of professional culture. An integral part of the process of police acceptance of this higher standard is police culture.

Discussion of police culture is generally centered on the negative traits than the positive. Police culture is the sum of many a subculture, Robert Reiner, in THE POLITICS OF POLICE, talks about the strength of the police culture being based upon police work being a mission serving the greater good. This foundation makes police culture so hard to reform.

Shedding Light on Police Culture: An Examination of Officers’ Occupational Attitudes - Eugene A. Paoline, III, University of Central Florida.
Research on police culture either depicts culture as an occupational phenomenon that encompasses all police officers and one that focuses on officer differences. The latter conceptualization of police culture suggests subcultures or social segmentation that bound or delimit the occupational culture. Research findings call into question some of the assumptions associated with a monolithic police culture. 

Using oral history to investigate police culture, Tom Cockcroft, Canterbury Christ Church University College.
Focuses upon the use of oral history methodology in relation to studying the work of the police, the culture or police cultures. 

Changing Police Culture - Janet Chan
The concept of police culture and its impact on police reform. The persistence of police culture has been considered a serious obstacle to reform. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu, the concepts of field and habitus, this paper suggests a new way of conceptualizing police culture. Police culture results from an interaction between the field of policing and the various dimensions of police organizational knowledge.


A social constructionist account of police culture and its influence on the representation and progression of female officers: A repertory grid analysis in a UK police force - Dick P. Jankowicz D.
The police organisation receives media attention regarding its record on equality of opportunity. The organisational culture in police organisations plays a role in impeding the progress of women.

Police Culture and the Learning Organisation: A Relationship? - Peter Shanahan
Police culture and learning organisations are amorphous concepts. The basic elements of police culture and the learning organisation and their relationship in the context of the South Australia Police. Is police culture an impediment or advantage to the evolutionary process. Results that showed statistical significancant difference and significance in their description of SAPOL's culture.