Calling the police, more or less democratically

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The interface between police and citizens in Taiwan is no crisp confrontation between state and society. It is a thickly layered space of mediation, populated by diverse agents, authorities, institutions, and networks. This article uses an ethnographic study of this space to explore its historical and cultural organization. I assemble a series of descriptions of situations in which people sought to mobilize police powers on their behalf, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully. I use this evidentiary basis to reflect on the cultural skills involved in making an effective call to police in democratic Taiwan. These skills, I argue, are best understood as a reflection of the meaningful foundations in which the democratic qualities of state powers have taken root in the context of Taiwan’s historical experience with modern governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-481
Number of pages20
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Policing
  • Taiwan
  • anthropology of police
  • democracy
  • mediation
  • regime change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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