Police punishment and the infrapolitics of (online) anti-police protest

P. Mutsaers, Tom van Nuenen

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Diarmaid Harkin recently called for a theory of police punishment and its public acceptance. He stated that police violence is ‘provided with a warranty of approval and encouragement from larger, aggregate, deeply held emotions and sensibilities’. We lend our support to his demand for a penal theory of police, but disagree in regard to his explanation of the relative quiescence of “the public” in the face of police punishment. We do so on empirical, epistemological and methodological grounds by (1) centralizing anti-police protest and resistance instead of consensus and acceptance of police punishment; (2) raising the epistemological question “how do we know protest/approval?” and (3) addressing the methodological aspects of studying online resistance, or “hashtag activism”, in anti-police protest. Central to our thesis is James Scott’s theory of hidden transcripts and the infrapolitics of resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameTilburg Papers in Culture Studies


  • police punishment
  • (online) resistance
  • hashtag activism
  • infrapolitics
  • hidden transcripts


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