Average cop has more integrity than the average professor

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At least that’s what Harvard-trained sociologist Peter Moskos reckons. And he might know. He joined the Baltimore police force in the high crime Eastern district, after basing himself there for his PhD research into the methods and culture of an American Police department (go here for an interview). It has certainly given him a new view of academic research:

“I think in the Ivory Tower there’s a problem with researching a group without ever talking to them. In academia, it’s all about measuring in quantitative stats. Culture matters. Cops live and work there, so they can see it. It cannot all be explained by money. [Academics] think it’s all about racism and economics”.

His book Cop In the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District is out now. One to read before watching the next episode of the The Wire.

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2 Responses to “Average cop has more integrity than the average professor”

  1. David Says:

    I think that US social scientists are still hung up on the need for quantitative data, and in some ways are trained to imitate (dare I say ‘ape’?) physical scientists. Here in Europe, qualitative research methods are far more respected, so it would be very strange for an academic to study a community without talking to/with its members.

  2. Tony Addison Says:

    Thanks David. Quantitative research techniques are very powerful, but they have their drawbacks, especially when the researchers apply them without understanding anything much about the community (or country context). Yes, US researchers do seem to ‘privilege’ quantitative approaches.

    In BWPI and CPRC we are increasingly keen on q-squared methods: bringing quantitative and qualitative techniques together to provide a richer understanding of poverty. We explore this in ‘Poverty Dynamics: Measurement and Understanding from an Interdisciplinary Perspective’ (Tony Addison, David Hulme and Ravi Kanbur) which is in the BWPI working paper series at:
    http://www.bwpi.manchester.ac.uk/resources/Working-Papers

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