FRAL - AAP franco-allemand

Police and Adolescents in Multi-Ethnic Societies. Subtitle: Interactions and Mutual Perceptions between Police Forces and (Minority) Adolescents in France and Germany – POLIS

Submission summary

This project aims at improving the knowledge about the causes of tensions and collective violence in urban settings and understanding the sources of legitimacy of the police among adolescents in multi-ethnic societies. In both Germany and France, minorities now represent a large share of the urban population, in particular of the marginalized social underclass. Nonetheless, large-scale riots like in France have failed to materialise in Germany so far. Apart from varying levels of social disadvantage and disintegration, the quality of policing and of police-minority relations may explain this discrepancy. We supplement the widely held assumption that ethnic minority status constitutes the distinctive explanatory factor with the hypothesis that socio-economic disadvantage and spatial segregation is a significant force – at least as important as ethnicity – driving both crime/violence as well as tensions between adolescents and the police (and possibly discriminatory police practices). We analyse police-adolescent interactions in a theoretical framework which includes police legitimacy and community social (des)integration. A cross-national comparison with identical study design and implementation will be decisive to solve these puzzles by increasing the variance of macro-level conditions which may stand among the determinants of youth behaviour (social, economic, ethnic conditions) on the one hand and police behaviour on the other hand (institutional, organizational, staff composition conditions). In Germany and France, two cities of different sizes are selected in order reduce the risk of undue generalization to the national level. A quantitative school survey among adolescents nested within neighbourhoods (N=5,000 in each country) will be paralleled by a qualitative analysis of police behaviour and organizational structure by ways of interviews and field observations. The principal aim of the school survey is to gain standardized information on police-related attitudes and experiences of adolescents for testing hypotheses on key theoretical concepts and for systematic comparisons between ethnic groups, neighbourhood contexts and countries. The qualitative part of the study will produce in-depth information on attitudes and interactions which could not otherwise be gathered. The results of this study will produce more rigorous answers to an important social question and could inform social policies and police strategies in disadvantaged urban areas

Project coordination

Sébastian ROCHÉ (Politiques Publiques, Actions Politiques, Territoires)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


PACTE Politiques Publiques, Actions Politiques, Territoires

Help of the ANR 220,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2007 - 36 Months

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