Ash, Daniel Paul (2021) Balancing value and effort: a classic grounded theory of frontline police practice. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

[thumbnail of AshDCrim2021.pdf]

Download (2MB) | Preview


This thesis seeks to explain the behaviour of frontline police officers engaged in incident work. Policymakers try to improve police legitimacy by changing how individual police officers interact with the public at police incidents. However, police practice has been particularly resistant to change, and professional and academic work that explains why this might be the case is underdeveloped. This thesis explores these issues from an interactional perspective; asking the questions – how do police officers behave, and why do they behave in that manner? The classic grounded theory method was used to collect and analyse data from officer interviews and body-worn video footage from police incidents within an English county in 2019. It is argued that officers seek to balance the level of effort they use at an incident against the value that they perceive that the incident represents. An incident is of value if an officer is afforded an opportunity to perform the role of an imagined police identity involving socio-culturally constructed notions of 'real' crime, 'real' victims and 'real' criminals. If value and effort are ‘unbalanced’, then an officer feels frustration and seeks to correct that imbalance by subconsciously shaping the behaviour of incident participants. Officer behaviour can be categorised into one of two types: binary retreat or binary deconstruction. Officers alternate between these two behaviour types to shape the behaviour of incident participants; trying to achieve a balance between value and effort. The theory can be used to improve police practice by changing how training is designed and how policy is created. The significance and relationship of value and effort in driving police behaviour have, to date, not been explored within existing literature as an explanation of frontline police practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV1 Criminology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Contributors: Kearon, Tony (Thesis advisor)
Lippens, RLG (Thesis advisor)
Wells, HM (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2021 10:29
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2021 10:29

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item