This paper explores the potential of the social sciences to use sociology, much as they have psychology and criminology, in an effort to explain the various types of social action, values, processes, and relationships that pertain to the interaction between the police and society.
The paper develops the argument that sociology as a social science has the most comprehensive theoretical conceptual framework for studying police as a social institution in interaction with the broader society. The author discusses concepts that support the sociological study of policing's social relations, structure, and processes as it provides protection and security for citizens under the laws of a society. The discussion analyzes the empirical and theoretical capacity of sociology to examine systematically the challenges that social change has imposed on the police. The paper identifies four levels where sociology can contribute to an analysis of policing's interaction with society in the midst of social change. One level involves the processes and dynamics of globalization, which have contributed to opportunities for and the extension of crime beyond national borders. How policing addresses and adapts to these changes can be a focus of sociology. A second level of concern to sociology in the analysis of policing is how the social processes of globalization are reflected in the social values that have traditionally formed the basis for policing as a social institution. A third focus of sociology on policing as a social institution is how police become a role model for displaying normative social values in opposition to deviant behavior. A fourth level of sociological analysis of policing is how the police adapt their organizational structure to advances in knowledge about how social institutions can be most effective in achieving their aims to benefit the society they serve. 21 references