Menu Expand



Leser, J. The Category of ‘Culture’ in Vice Squad Policing in Germany. Sociologus, 70(1), 57-72.
Leser, Julia "The Category of ‘Culture’ in Vice Squad Policing in Germany" Sociologus 70.1, , 57-72.
Leser, Julia: The Category of ‘Culture’ in Vice Squad Policing in Germany, in: Sociologus, vol. 70, iss. 1, 57-72, [online]


The Category of ‘Culture’ in Vice Squad Policing in Germany

Leser, Julia

Sociologus, Vol. 70 (2020), Iss. 1 : pp. 57–72

1 Citations (CrossRef)

Additional Information

Article Details


Author Details

Leipzig University, Department of Political Science, Beethovenstr. 15, 04107 Leipzig

Cited By

  1. Juger la traite des êtres humains en France et en Allemagne

    Darley, Mathilde

    Sociétés contemporaines, Vol. N° 125 (2022), Iss. 1 P.175 [Citations: 0]


  1. Bacchi, C. 2012. Why Study Problematizations? Making Politics Visible. Open Journal of Political Science, 2 (1), pp. 1–18.  Google Scholar
  2. Barad, K. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham & London: Duke University Press.  Google Scholar
  3. Beek, J. 2016. Producing Stateness: Police Work in Ghana. Leiden & Boston: Brill.  Google Scholar
  4. Behr, R. 2006. Polizeikultur: Routinen, Rituale, Reflexionen: Bausteine zu einer Theorie der Praxis der Polizei. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.  Google Scholar
  5. Bergmann, J. R., Dausendschön-Gay, U. & Oberzaucher, F. (eds.) 2014. “Der Fall”: Studien zur epistemischen Praxis professionellen Handelns. Bielefeld: Transcript.  Google Scholar
  6. Bierschenk, T. 2016. Police and State. In B. Bradford et al. (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Global Policing (pp. 155–178). London: Sage.  Google Scholar
  7. Bierschenk, T. 2014. Sedimentation, Fragmentation and Normative Double-Binds in (West) African Public Services. In T. Bierschenk and J.-P. Olivier de Sardan (eds.), States at Work. Dynamics of African Bureaucracies (pp. 221–245). Leiden: Brill.  Google Scholar
  8. Bowling, B., Parmar, A. & Phillips, C. 2003. Policing Minority Ethnic Communities. In T. Newburn (ed.), Handbook of Policing (pp. 611–640). Cullompton: Willan Publishing.  Google Scholar
  9. Bundeskriminalamt [BKA] 2015. Menschenhandel. Bundeslagebild 2015. Wiesbaden: Bundeskriminalamt.  Google Scholar
  10. Chan, J. B. L. 1997. Changing Police Culture: Policing in a Multicultural Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  Google Scholar
  11. Christie, N. 1986. The Ideal Victim. In E. A. Fattah (ed.), From Crime Policy to Victim Policy (pp. 17–30). London: Palgrave Macmillan.  Google Scholar
  12. Doezema, J. 1999. Loose Women or Lost Women? The Re-Emergence of the Myth of White Slavery in Contemporary Discourses of Trafficking in Women. Gender Issues, 18 (1), pp. 23–50.  Google Scholar
  13. Douglas, M. 1986. How Institutions Think. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.  Google Scholar
  14. Dubois, V. 2010. The Bureaucrat and the Poor. Encounters in French Welfare Offices. Aldershot: Ashgate.  Google Scholar
  15. Ericson, R. V. 1982. Reproducing Order: A Study of Police Patrol Work. Toronto & Buffalo: University of Toronto Press.  Google Scholar
  16. Farrell, A. & Pfeffer, R. 2014. Policing Human Trafficking: Cultural Blinders and Organizational Barriers. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653 (1), pp. 46–64.  Google Scholar
  17. Fassin, D. 2013. Enforcing Order. An Ethnography of Urban Policing. Cambridge: Polity Press.  Google Scholar
  18. Fassin, D. et al. (eds.) 2015. At the Heart of the State: The Moral World of Institutions. London: Pluto Press.  Google Scholar
  19. Feingold, D. A. 2010. Trafficking in Numbers: The Social Construction of Human Trafficking Data. In P. Andreas & K. M. Greenhill (eds.), Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict (pp. 46–74). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.  Google Scholar
  20. Jobard, F. 2008. Ethnizität und Rassismus in der gesellschaftlichen Konstruktion der gefährlichen Gruppen. Polizeikultur und -praxis in den französischen Vororten. Swiss Journal of Sociology, 34 (2), pp. 261–280.  Google Scholar
  21. Kantorowicz, E. H. 1997 [1957]. The King’s Two Bodies. Princeton: Princeton University Press.  Google Scholar
  22. Kyed, H. M. & Albrecht, P. 2015. Introduction: Policing and the Politics of Order-Making on the Urban Margins. In P. Albrecht & H. M. Kyed (eds.), Policing and the Politics of Order-Making (pp. 1–23). Abingdon & New York: Routledge.  Google Scholar
  23. Leser, J. 2018. Policing the Absence of the Victim: An Ethnography of Raids in Sex Trafficking Operations. In T. Sanders & M. Laing (eds.), Policing the Sex Industry. Protection, Paternalism and Politics (pp. 109–125). Abingdon & New York: Routledge.  Google Scholar
  24. Leser, J., Pates, R. & Dölemeyer, A. 2017. The Emotional Leviathan – How Street-Level Bureaucrats Govern Human Trafficking Victims. Digithum, 29, pp. 19–36.  Google Scholar
  25. Lipsky, M. 1980. Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.  Google Scholar
  26. Loftus, B. 2007. Policing the ‘Irrelevant’: Class, Diversity and Contemporary Police Culture. In M. O’Neill et al. (eds.), Police Occupational Culture: New Debates and Directions (pp. 181–204). Oxford, Amsterdam & San Diego: JAI Press.  Google Scholar
  27. Loyens, K. 2015. Law Enforcement and Policy Alienation: Coping by Labour Inspectors and Federal Police Officers. In P. Hupe (ed.), Understanding Street-Level Bureaucracy (pp. 99–114). Bristol & Chicago: Policy Press.  Google Scholar
  28. Mainsant, G. 2010. Du juste usage des émotions. Déviance et société, 34 (2), pp. 253–265.  Google Scholar
  29. Mainsant, G. 2013. How Police Control Defines Prostitution. Ethnologie française, 43 (3), pp. 485–493.  Google Scholar
  30. Pates, R., Dölemeyer, A. & Leser, J. 2016. Schwierige Verhältnisse: Menschenhandelsopfer und Geschlecht in Gerichtsverfahren. Femina Politica, 25 (1), pp. 24–38.  Google Scholar
  31. Reiner, R. 2010. The Politics of the Police. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.  Google Scholar
  32. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.  Google Scholar
  33. Scott, M. B. & Lyman, S. M. 1968. Accounts. American Sociological Review, 33 (1), pp. 46–62.  Google Scholar
  34. Statistisches Bundesamt 2017. Rechtspflege: Strafverfolgung. Fachserie 10. Reihe. Wiesbaden: Statistisches Bundesamt.  Google Scholar
  35. Ticktin, M. I. 2011. Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France. Berkeley: University of California Press.  Google Scholar
  36. Valverde, M. 2003. Law’s Dream of a Common Knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.  Google Scholar
  37. Waddington, P. A. J. 1999. Police (Canteen) Sub-Culture. An Appreciation. British Journal of Criminology, 39 (2), pp. 287–309.  Google Scholar
  38. Weitzer, R. 2007. The Social Construction of Sex Trafficking: Ideology and Institutionalization of a Moral Crusade. Politics & Society, 35 (3), pp. 447–475.  Google Scholar
  39. Westmarland, L. 2001. Gender and Policing: Sex, Power and Police Culture. London & New York: Routledge.  Google Scholar
  40. Young, M. 1991. An Inside Job: Policing and Police Culture in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  Google Scholar



This article makes a twofold claim. First, the notion of ‘culture’ is inherently interwoven with the classification system that organises the daily work of police officers. In their understanding, culture is a one-size-fits-all category to produce boundaries in terms of gender, ethnicity, class, and the willingness of a population to submit to police authority. The second claim is that ‘culture’ has a particular functionality in the field of policing practices. For police officers, ‘culture’ solves complex problems. It breaks down the complexities of the social world that the officers face, as it operates both as a meaning-making and complexity-reducing mechanism that ultimately counters particular dilemmas. In this regard, ethnographic research of a vice squad conducted in a mid-sized German city in 2015 revealed the kind of dilemma that exemplifies the argument of this contribution: the dilemma of the absent victim and its counterpart, the irritated police officer.

Keywords: Policing, culture, bureaucracy, human trafficking, state

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Julia Leser: The Category of ‘Culture’ in Vice Squad Policing in Germany 1
Abstract 1
1. The Dilemma of the Absent Victim 1
2. The Irritated Police Officer 4
3. The Plausible Explanation 6
4. Practising ‘Culture’ 1
5. Conclusion 1
References 1