Accepted Paper:

Police agents face prostitues: a singular case of bureaucratic relationship? From registers of interaction to the exercise of the police power.  


Gwenaelle Mainsant (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation deals with the interactions between bureaucrats and their clienteles and the registers of interaction they employ. Therefore I will focus on a case study of interaction between police agents and prostitutes in the context the struggle against procuration.

Paper long abstract:

My presentation is based on an ethnographic fieldwork of the French police in a judiciary service in charge of the struggle against procuration. I focus on the relationships between police agents and their clienteles and on the registers of interaction they employ.

The interactions between bureaucrats and their clienteles I have observed through police agentsĀ“ actions and discourses empirically materialize this bureaucratic relationship.

Whereas the Weberian ideal type pictures the bureaucratic relationship as dispassionate, the interactions I observed appear to be familiar, friendly, or on the contrary conflictuous, even violent. In the light of this, I pretend neither to falsify nor to propose any ideal type of bureaucratic relationship.

I analyse how registers of interaction are produced, negotiated or imposed through different factors. We thus point out the crossing influences of the institutional aims of the relationships (e.g. to collect some piece of information, complaints, evidences, confessions of guilt or complicity), the institutional frames (not only material inside and outside the police station but also during custodies or informal meetings with an informant), and the actors conditioned by their individual dispositions (class, race, gender, role in the interaction : police agent or citizen).

Finally we aim at understanding how such registers of interaction which are personally, emotionally or theatrically invested by the protganists become not only probable but also a necessary condition of the action of the police.

Panel W052
World(s) of bureaucrats