Over the last four decades, the United States has witnessed historic expansions of its criminal justice system. This aggressive form of criminalization has, in turn, transformed the cultural contexts of poor urban communities. Fieldwork data gathered in premier sites of intensive policing—Los Angeles’ Skid Row and Chicago’s south side—reveal that criminalized residents develop and deploy a particular cultural frame—what I term “cop wisdom”—by which they render seemingly-random police activity more legible, predictable, and manipulable. Armed with this interpretive schema, “copwise” residents engage in new forms of self-presentation in public, movement through the daily round, and informal social control in order to deflect police scrutiny and forestall street stops. While these techniques may enable some residents to reduce unwanted police contact, this benefit often comes at the expense of individual and collective well-being by precluding social interaction, exacerbating stigma, and contributing to animosity in public space.
The Criminal Justice Research Center Presents “Down, Out and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life Among the Urban Poor” featuring Professor Forrest Stuart, Assistant Professor of Sociology University of Chicago
Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
The Ohio State University, 038 Townshend Hall, 1885 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210