Laura D. Keesman & Don Weenink: Feel it Coming: Situational Turning Points in Police-Civilian Encounters. [Abstract]
Studies of antagonistic interactions, specifically in policing, frequently view (de)escalation as a linear process without considering how officers perceive and anticipate interactional processes. We argue however that officers perceive tense encounters with civilians as characterized by a back-and-forth going of various trajectories, goals, and directions. Based on our interactionist and ethnomethodological conceptualization of interactional trajectories, we analyse 25 video interviews and 46 elicitation interviews. Our analysis focuses on officers’ interpretations of “turning points,” e.g., sudden shifts in their own, their colleagues’, or civilians’ bodily behaviour that redirect their projected trajectories and which necessitate police action, sometimes violence. This article moves beyond a purely situational understanding of police-civilian encounters by incorporating officers’ accounts of their experiences and bodily actions, as elicited by watching video recordings of police-civilian encounters. We argue that our conceptualization of trajectories and turnings points as well as our video-based interview method shed light on the importance of bodily action police-civilian encounters; maintaining public order is to anticipate and redirect perceived turning points that potentially disturb routinized patterns of bodily actions.
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