Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order

Stuart Hall
Chas Critcher
Tony Jefferson
John Clarke
Brian Roberts
Type: 
peer-reviewed book

"Thirty-eight years ago this month, a group of researchers led by Stuart Hall published their landmark study Policing the Crisis. Though purportedly focused on the moral panic surrounding mugging, the book provides contemporary readers with a prehistory of neoliberalism, charting the unraveling post-war consensus and the displacement of social democratic hegemony. Accompanying these political and economic transformations was a restructuring of the working class itself; the combined effects of accelerating joblessness and deskilling among migrant workers, who retained the black political consciousness of the 1960s, consolidated ethnically distinct class fractions in Britain and resulted in a splintering of struggles. On the one hand, there was a classical series of industrial strikes from a multiracial but predominantly white workforce. On the other, there emerged an oppositional culture of extra-legal hustling and self-help. The authors noted that such distinct modes of resistance could work in tandem: the refusal of work by urban black proletarians could become a refusal to compete with increasingly precarious industrial workers, a refusal to break their strikes. But without an organization that might have coordinated these discrete sectors, it was the “law and order” strategies of the Conservative Party that played the mediating role. A trumped-up media scare around black criminality authorized an increased police presence in inner cities, while tragically disabling the possibility of a revolutionary alliance, even as the racist representation of crime provided the necessary ideological materials to “discipline, restrain, and coerce” the working class in general. Their analysis is a painful reminder that class isn’t just made at the point of production – it’s a consequence of politics, too"  From Ben Mabie,  "Policing the Crisis, Policing the Planet: an Interview with Christina Heatherton and Jordan T. Camp", ViewpointMagazine, October 12 2016

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