Notes on law and police occupational culture in Brazil’s Military Polices: An explorative study

Authors

Keywords:

Police culture, sociology of law, military polices of Brazil, Pierre Bourdieu, Erving Goffman, cultura policial, sociología jurídica, policías militares de Brasil

Abstract

This research discusses the relations between law and police culture in the context of Brazil’s Military Polices, aiming to contribute both to discussions about these corporations’ non-compliance with legal standards and to socio-legal knowledge on policing. Pierre Bourdieu’s conceptualization of the juridical field, along with Erving Goffman’s theory of interaction rituals, are used to design a qualitative exploratory study that combines semi-structured interviews with lower-rank officers and observation of criminal trials in which these participated as witnesses. Due to COVID-19, methods were adapted to online platforms. The analysis suggests that Brazil’s juridical field structurally conditions the development of its police culture, although not in the ways intended. Additionally, law appears as an important symbolic figure in the construction of the officers’ occupational selves, and it is argued that contact with legal institutions engenders particular strategies of self-presentation, aimed at safeguarding both appearances and internal ideas about the profession.

Esta investigación se ocupa de las relaciones entre el derecho y la cultura policial en el contexto de las Policías Militares de Brasil. Se intenta así aportar tanto al debate sobre el incumplimiento de dichas instituciones con los estándares jurídicos, como al conocimiento socio-jurídico sobre la policía. Se utilizan la conceptualización de Pierre Bourdieu sobre el campo jurídico y la teoría de Erving Goffman sobre los rituales de interacción para diseñar un estudio cualitativo exploratorio que combina entrevistas semiestructuradas con oficiales de rango menor y la observación de juicios penales en los que aquéllos participaron como testigos. Debido a la COVID-19, los métodos se adaptaron a las plataformas online. Los análisis sugieren que el campo jurídico de Brasil condiciona estructuralmente el desarrollo de su cultura policial, si bien no de la forma deseada. Por añadidura, el derecho parece ser una figura simbólica importante en la construcción del yo ocupacional de los policías, y se aduce que el contacto con las instituciones del derecho engendra estrategias particulares de presentación de uno mismo, encaminadas a salvaguardar las apariencias, así como las ideas personales sobre la profesión.

Available from: https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1200

Author Biography

Julia Maia Goldani, Fundação Getúlio Vargas - Doctoral Programme in Law and Development & Research Center on Crime and Punishment

PhD Candidate in Law and Development at Fundação Getúlio Vargas Law School (São Paulo, Brazil). Affiliated with the institution's research center on crime and punishment. 

Published

11-02-2021 — Updated on 01-12-2021

How to Cite

Goldani, J. M. (2021) “Notes on law and police occupational culture in Brazil’s Military Polices: An explorative study”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 11(6), pp. 1463–1491. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/1340 (Accessed: 10 August 2022).