Police Unions, Democratic Transformation, and Social Justice: Beatrice Jaregui's SSHRC Insight Grant | CrimSL News September 2021

Photo of Beatrice JaureguiCongratulations to CrimSL Associate Professor Beatrice Jauregui, who has been awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant for her project, Police Unions, Democratic Transformation, and Social Justice.

The project, with international collaborator Susana Durao (Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, State University of Campinas), looks at police unionism in Brazil, Canada, India, and the US.

“Police unionism is a global form,” says Professor Jauregui, who has two decades of fieldwork experience with police in India. “The goals, activities, capabilities, and legalities of police unions vary dramatically across time and space, especially when we compare organizations in the global north and the global south.”

“Understanding and explaining these distinctions—and especially how they relate to macro-level processes like democratization, decolonization, and other kinds of political economic transformations—is vital to any informed dialogue around policing.”

The five year SSHRC Insight Grant will support “the first transnationally coordinated longitudinal study comparing police unionism in the global south and global north to critically rethink the role of these organizations and movements in political struggles over governance reform.”

This research is both timely and urgent.

“Police unions are central figures in current debates around abolishing, defunding, detasking, demilitarizing, or otherwise transforming policing,” says Professor Jauregui.

“Some people perceive police unions as obstructionist forces that defend and reproduce institutional violence and systemic discrimination. Others view them as potential allies in working for social justice and necessary advocates for workers with unique job-related risks and responsibilities. Both of these conflicting views may be correct, depending on the context.”

“We urgently need to develop a transnational knowledge base about police unionism, and other forms of police worker politics, to guide concrete recommendations for best practices and policies of institutional change that promote equity and justice."

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