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Speaker Series: Jennifer Earl, University of Arizona

  • When: January 31, 2018, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Lakeside, Chicago IL 60611

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Innovations in Policing: Rethinking Changes in Protest Policing Protocols in the US

The social movements literature on protest policing has a consensual view of how protest policing protocols in the US, and in Western Europe, shifted in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The consensus view is that a force-based protocol designed to stop protest, known as escalated force, dominated until the late 1960s, when it began to be challenged by a conflict-avoidance and arrest-based approach designed to deescalate but not stop protest, known as negotiated management. This shift was argued to be relatively clean, follow an S-curve diffusion process, and be driven by isomorphic forces. However, like much of the work on organizational innovation, this account ignores the creation of negotiated management and potential competitors, leaving the historical winner of a much more chaotic and heterogeneous innovation process as the only recognized artifact of the period. Research from science and technology studies, though, argues that this creative period is quite important because alternative designs are introduced and compete to become “the” design that ultimately diffuses broadly and, in its ascendance, obscures the historical existence of alternatives. In this project, we draw on the social construction of technology (SCOT) model from science and technology studies and police trade journals representing different elements of the policing field, to: (1) show that the consensus view of a tidy shift from escalated force to negotiated management is empirically incorrect; (2) demonstrate that both innovation and selection processes are important to a development and then winnowing process in which new tactics and strategies in isolation and in varying combinations were introduced and then hotly contested; and (3) examine causal factors that drove these processes, such as larger shifts within policing (i.e., the second wave of police professionalism, concerns about public relations and policing) that affected both the development and selection of new designs. In doing so, we demonstrate both a new methodological and theoretical lens for studying organizational innovation, one which we argue better incorporates heterogeneity and non-isomorphic forces into the explanation of organization change and diffusion.

Courtesy University of Arizona

Jennifer Earl is a Professor of Sociology and (by courtesy) Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. She taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) before joining Arizona. She is Director Emerita of the Center for Information Technology and Society and Director Emerita of the Technology and Society PhD Emphasis, both at UCSB. Her research focuses on social movements and the sociology of law, with research emphases on the Internet and social movements, social movement repression, and legal change. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for research from 2006-2011 on Web activism and has received over 1.25 million dollars in grant funding since earning her PhD. She is also a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics. She has published widely, including an MIT Press book entitled Digitally Enabled Social Change, which examines how the use of Internet affordances are reshaping the basic dynamics of protest online and was awarded an Honorable Mention for the Communication and Information Technologies Section of the American Sociological Associaton's Book Award in 2013. She was inducted in 2016 to the Sociological Research Association, an honorary association for sociological researchers. She is also the recipient of a university-award for excellence in undergraduate research mentoring in 2010-2011 and another university-wide award for the most outstanding assistant professor on her campus in 2005-2006.

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