The article presents research results of an ethnographic survey within the German police. The focus is on practices of spatial production and the functions of spaces.
The article draws on data from the DFG-funded research project KORSIT (Social Construction of security-related Spaces) based on an ethnographic survey in the German police force (https://www.dhpol.de/korsit). Participant observations were conducted in police stations in two large German cities (pseudonymised as “Dillenstadt” and “Rosenberg”). It involved 60 guided interviews with police officers at different levels of the hierarchy, as well as further interviews with local and societal actors for contrasting purposes. The data was analysed on the basis of grounded theory (Strauss and Cobin, 1996).
This paper shed light on institutional spatial knowledge, which is the basis of police practices, is preceded by experience-based narratives. In an expanded perspective, the paper argues that urban spaces themselves can be understood as materialisations of social practices that serve as social demarcation that legitimise unequal styles of action in the different precinct within the German police. In terms of a relational conceptualisation of space, it is shown that the categories of ethnicity and gender interrelate within the institutional production of space.
The article links organisational research with sociological spatial research and provides basic explanatory models on the conditions of emergence and the persistence of discriminatory practices within the police.