Constructing the "Other" Within the Police Culture: An Analysis of Deviant Investigative Units Within the Police Organization

Venessa Garcia, Monmouth University

As a society, we aggregate and dichotomize ourselves by implying that sharing a master status effectively binds a set of people together. Dichotomization, in particular constructs an image of a mythical "Other" who is not at all like "us." Dichotomization also constructs a vision of "them" as profoundly different and promotes the leveling of sanctions and stigmas against those who occupy the "other" status. Research has revealed a police culture that promotes a "we-they" paradox within the larger community. This research goes a step further in examining how police culture invokes this paradox within the police organization itself. In particular, it examines how police culture stigmatizes and sanctions female officers or officers who work within special investigative units labeled to be "women's work," specifically domestic violence and juvenile crime units. Such stigmas reflect images of laziness and social work roles, while sanctions include limited access to space, processes, and resources. Furthermore, these social constructs have major implications for citizens who are affected by this design.

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Updated 05/20/2006