Congratulations to Ph.D. Candidate Holly Campeau, recipient of the 2016 The Dennis William Magill Canada Research Award. The Dennis William Magill Canada Research Award is awarded annually to a student in the Department of Sociology for a PhD dissertation or journal article of exceptional merit that focuses on an aspect of Canadian society. Preference is given to macro-sociological works.
Holly was awarded the honour based on her article, ‘Police culture’ at work: Making sense of police oversight, British Journal of Criminology (55: 2015) 669-87. Within police studies, ‘police culture’ is often represented as an “ideal-type” and depicted according to a series of values (e.g. conservatism, solidarity, machismo, mission, etc.). This article argues in favour of an alternative, more nuanced conceptualization of police ‘culture’ which draws on concepts from the sociology of culture. Police culture is viewed as a resource, which actors deploy within particular institutional constraints. Drawing on 100 interviews and participant observation in a police department, the analysis shows how officers negotiate meaning in an unsettled occupational environment prompted by heightened levels of police oversight. Two culture indicators are examined: solidarity and mission. Applying this lens, findings reveal that new accountability measures can lead to a weakened sense of officer solidarity and unwillingness to take on risky work. This article represents an explicit attempt to theorize police culture sociologically and invoke an adaptive framework for uncovering how actors use culture within a definable set of structuring conditions.
In awarding Holly the prize, The adjudicating committee wrote “Holly’s research helps us understand how, in a period of increased oversight, police officers are compelled to re-fashion the meaning of their work, using elements of institutional culture as symbolic raw material. The members of the committee were struck by Holly’s theoretical sophistication, the clarity of her exposition, the sensitivity with which she interpreted the data she collected from interviews of 100 police officers and participant observation in a police department, and her substantive contribution to her field of study.”