The Evolution of Protest Policing in a Hybrid Regime

Using interview data from protesters and frontline police, this article examines the evolution of protest policing, from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ models, amid the recent unrest in Hong Kong. While ‘police-centric’ explanations in the protest policing literature tend to conceive of police as intentional deci...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:The British journal of criminology
Main Author: Wang, Peng (Author)
Other Authors: Joosse, Paul (Author); Cho, Lok Lee
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: [2020]
In:The British journal of criminology
Year: 2020, Volume: 60, Issue: 6, Pages: 1523-1546
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:Using interview data from protesters and frontline police, this article examines the evolution of protest policing, from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ models, amid the recent unrest in Hong Kong. While ‘police-centric’ explanations in the protest policing literature tend to conceive of police as intentional decision makers who can choose among a variety of strategies, we employ a mixed embeddedness framework to find that a number of factors—external to police—have deprived the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) of its capacity to facilitate peaceful protest through ‘soft’ strategies of communication and negotiation. These include (1) a legitimacy crisis of governance in Hong Kong (a macro-level factor), (2) the erosion of police authority within the local political culture (a meso-level factor) and (3) stylistic changes in police-protester interactions, involving the increased use of masks and collective action frames of identification as victims of police (micro-level factors). Together, these factors have inaugurated reaction spirals which have led Hong Kong’s police-public interface to an unprecedented state of breakdown, where ‘soft’ policing is now all but impossible and where the HKPF is beset by a widely subscribed demand for its outright disbandment.
ISSN:1464-3529
DOI:10.1093/bjc/azaa040