Repertoires of Control: Explaining Organizational Innovation and Change in US Protest Policing
Scholars studying social movement repression and protest policing in the US and abroad have prioritized the identification of, and explanation of, changes in best practice models for protest policing. In the US, a widely accepted account of protest policing in the 1960s and 1970s claims that a dominant best practice model—known as escalated force—was pervasive in US policing through the end of the 1960s. In this approach, police sought to stop protest if at all possible, using as much force as required to attain that goal. Toward the end of the 1960s and fully by the mid-1970s, this accepted account claims that a new dominant approach had overtaken the field, known as negotiated management. In this approach, police were thought to focus on balancing the need for order with rights to protest and were expected to seek ways to reduce the likelihood and intensity of conflict between police and protesters. In this talk, Professor Earl discusses newer findings on the development and competition between model protest policing practices in this period, demonstrating that there were no singular dominant approaches but a repertoire of protest control options. In empirically describing and theoretically explaining the rise, reconfiguration, and contraction of this repertoire, Professor Earl focuses on the role of civil rights protest and rioting (or what police understood more broadly as racial conflict) and the movement within policing to further professionalize, which was in full swing in the 1960s and 1970s. Findings point to both a new model for understanding changes in model protest policing practices and also a more general study of organizational field change.