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Lag eller ordning?: Polisens hantering av EU-toppmötet i Göteborg 2001
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation deals with the value conflict surrounding the police handling of political protest. During a political protest, the police are responsible for striking a balance between the maintenance of order and the protection of civil liberties.

The focus of the study is directed at the police planning prior to and their activities during the European Union summit meeting in Gothenburg in June 2001. Using institutional theory and concepts from the literature on policing political protest, the dissertation seeks to analyse which mechanisms and processes influenced the priorities, goals and perceptions held by the police. The dissertation aims at reaching an institutional understanding of how the Swedish Police dealt with the task that faced them and it contributes to the existing literature and knowledge on the police handling of these protest events. The dissertation tries to move beyond the common “blame-game” and other, more or less politicized and biased approaches in order to establish a balanced account of how and why decisions were made and events developed as they did.

A single case study design is used to create a high-density description of the operational decisions and actions taken by the police during the EU summit. The study is based on various data sources: interviews with key actors from the local police and representatives from the demonstration networks, analyses of internal police documents and diaries from police and political activists and relevant research literature.

The events are first contextualised and located in a Swedish political-historical perspective and a transnational perspective, with a special focus on the development of the Swedish welfare state, previous encounters between the Swedish police and protesters, and on the transnational changes that challenge nation states, police authorities, social movements and political activists in a globalised world.

The remainder of the dissertation presents the empirical findings and the conclusions of the study. The description presented of the police planning activities and the efforts to coordinate the police resources prior to the summit meeting in Gothenburg provides clear evidence of a power struggle and an organisational clash between the national and local levels within the Swedish police.

The findings presented in the subsequent chapter are based on an analysis of four decision points and critical events during the summit, all of which focus on various dimensions of police strategies and the dilemmas confronting the police during a political protest. The findings indicate that the operational decisions and the police techniques used were based on an offensive-proactive approach, which exhausted the police personnel from the outset and which created “spill over” effects that escalated and prolonged the exchanges of violence.

Maintaining public order and securing civil liberties can be seen as collective goods. Prior agreements and negotiations in the field between the police and demonstration networks will always be temporary and fragile due to the asymmetries that characterize the relationship between these actors. The dissertation specifies two principle mechanisms which develop the bridging concept of “police knowledge”. These two mechanisms, the unintended consequences of operational decisions and the awareness of the actor/co-actor perspectives, also illustrate where the policy prescriptions and the professional challenges within the police are located.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Kriminologiska institutionen , 2005. , 280 p.
Keyword [sv]
policing protest, police knowledge, public order, civil liberties, collective goods, institutional theory, Swedish Police, transnationalisation, political violence, political activists, political dignitaries
National Category
Law and Society
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-757ISBN: 91-7223-241-2OAI: diva2:198621
Public defence
2005-12-16, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2005-11-24 Created: 2005-11-24Bibliographically approved

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