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Local Order, Policing, and Bribes

Evidence from India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2020


Day-to-day policing represents a fundamental interface between citizens and states. Yet even in the most capable states, local policing varies enormously from one community to the next. The authors seek to understand this variation and in doing so make three contributions: First, they conceptualize communities and individuals as networks more or less capable of demanding high-quality policing. Second, they present original survey data and semistructured interviews on local policing from over one hundred sixty slums, eight thousand households, and one hundred seventy informal neighborhood leaders in India that contribute to the nascent empirical work on comparative policing and order. Third, they find evidence that well-connected individuals and densely connected neighborhoods express greater confidence in and satisfaction with local policing. Critically, these differences do not appear to be a function of a lower propensity for local conflict but rather of an increased capacity to leverage neighborhood leaders to mediate relations with the police. The combination of analytics and empirics in this article provides insight into the conditions under which individuals and communities experience the police as expropriators of rents or neutral providers of order.

Research Article
Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 2020

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