Please join us for a colloquium being given by Forrest Stuart, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago.
Down, Out, and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life Among the Urban Poor
Over the last four decades, the United States has witnessed historic expansions of its criminal justice system. This aggressive form of criminalization has, in turn, transformed the cultural contexts of poor urban communities. Fieldwork data gathered in premier sites of intensive policing—Los Angeles’ Skid Row and Chicago’s South Side—reveal that criminalized residents develop and deploy a particular cultural frame—what I term “cop wisdom”—by which they render seemingly-random police activity more legible, predictable, and manipulable. Armed with this interpretive schema, “copwise” residents engage in new forms of self-presentation in public, movement through the daily round, informal social control, and gender performances in order to deflect police scrutiny and forestall street stops. While these techniques may enable some residents to reduce unwanted police contact, this benefit often comes at the expense of individual and collective well-being by disrupting social interaction, exacerbating stigma, and contributing to animosity and violence in public space.