Cover image for The fabrication of social order : a critical theory of police power
The fabrication of social order : a critical theory of police power
Neocleous, Mark, 1964-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Sterling, VA : Pluto Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xv, 160 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


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JC474 .N47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Anyone who considers questions of power cannot help but be struck by the ubiquitous nature, emotional force and political pull of the concept of order. In this book, Mark Neocleous examines the role of the police in the construction of this order.After an initial exploration of the original relationship between police, state power and the question of order, he focuses on the ways in which eighteenth century liberalism refined and narrowed the concept of the police, a process which masked the power of capital and broader issues of social control. In doing so he challenges the way liberalism came to define policing solely in terms of the question of crime and the rule of law. This liberal definition created a limited and fundamentally misleading understanding of policing which remains in use today.In contrast, Neocleous argues for an expanded concept of police, adequate to the expansive set of institutions through which policing takes place. These institutions are concerned not just with the maintenance or reproduction of order, but with its fabrication, especially the fabrication of a social order based on wage labour. This project, he argues, should be understood as the project of social security. Grasping this point allows a fuller understanding of the ways in which the state polices and secures civil society, and how order is fabricated through law and administration.

Author Notes

Mark Neocleous is Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Government at Brunel University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
1 'Police Begets Good Order'p. 1
Mastering the masterless; imposing orderp. 1
Excursus on the 'peculiarities of the English', or, Aristotle in Britainp. 9
Mastering the market; imposing workp. 11
2 Liberalism and the Police of Propertyp. 22
From police to political economy?p. 22
From rule of police to rule of law?p. 29
The state of liberal order: interest, independence, propertyp. 34
Towards securityp. 41
3 Ordering Insecurity I: Social Police and the Mechanisms of Preventionp. 45
'The well ordering and comfort of civil society'p. 47
Political economy and social policep. 56
Towards social securityp. 59
4 Ordering Insecurity II: On Social Securityp. 63
The fabrication of wage labourp. 66
Border patrols: classes, criminals and claimantsp. 79
The metaphysics of the proper: medical police, pigs and social dirtp. 84
Towards the legal reconstruction of police workp. 89
5 Law, Order, Political Administrationp. 92
Arrest and police 'illegality'p. 95
Administration and the rationality of police: discretionp. 99
'Wonderful and marvellous things': the mythology of modern law and orderp. 106
Formless power and ghostly presence: the state of the policep. 115
Notesp. 119