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.