Producing Stateness

Police Work in Ghana


Jan Beek’s book explores everyday police work in an African country and analyses how police officers, despite prevailing stereotypes about failed states and African police, produce stateness. Drawing on highly readable ethnographic descriptions, the book shows that Ghanaian police practices often involve the exchange of money (bribes), the use of violence and the influence of politicians. However, such informal practices allow police officers to deal with the inconsistent necessities and the social context of their work. Ultimately, Ghanaian police officers are also inspired by a bureaucratic ethos and their practices are guided by it. Stateness, the book argues, is a quality of organizations, gradually emerging out of such everyday encounters. Producing Stateness allows a close look at the realities of police work in Africa and provides surprising insights into the rationalities of policing and state bureaucracies everywhere.
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EUR €70.00USD $84.00

Biographical Note

Jan Beek finished his Dr. phil. at Mainz University in 2014 and is a postdoctoral research fellow at the AFRASO research programme, Goethe University, Frankfurt. Based on extensive fieldwork in Ghana, India, Niger and Germany, he has published several articles on police work, state bureaucracies, cybercrime, transregional connections and collaborative research methods.

Table of contents

List of Tables

1 The History of Police Work: Travelling Models
2 The Internal Organisation of the Police: Movements and Moral Orders
3 Dockets, Police Community, and Politics: Bureaucratic Order in the Police
4 Money, Morals, and Law at Traffic Checks: Registers in Police Interactions
5 Patrolling Public Spaces: Relational Stateness
6 Criminal Investigations: Boundary Work and Boundary Shifting
7 Private Security, Vigilantes, and Neighbours: Relating to Other Policing Actors
8 Three Police Officers: Living Bureaucratically

Conclusion: Stateness as Aura



The book will be of interest to academics and students in the fields of political anthropology, comparative criminology, organizational sociology, political science of Africa, police studies, governance and development studies and security studies. Police officers working abroad and students in police academies / colleges will also be interested.


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