Policing disorderly campus protests and convivial gatherings: The interaction of threat, social organization, and first amendment guarantees

John David McCarthy, Andrew Martin, Clark McPhail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Expectations about police responses to disorderly campus gatherings are explored here using details about nearly 400 disorderly convivial gatherings and confrontational protests that occurred during recent decades. Past work suggests that protests may represent threats to authorities, but protests also are privileged by the First Amendment, yielding conflicting expectations about the forcefulness of police responses. In contrast, convivial gatherings, even those that breach the public order, may be less threatening to authorities, while at the same time more difficult to police because of their comparative lack of social organization. Analyzing details of the gatherings, we find that while police frequently attempt to disperse disturbances of both kinds, they use force in only a small minority of them. However, police are substantially more likely to use force when protest participants also use force than when convivial participants do, suggesting that the relationship between threat and police response is heavily contingent upon the nature of the event as well as the behavior of participants. The findings highlight the interplay between the internal dynamics of gatherings and the way they are perceived by authorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-296
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Problems
Volume54
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007

Fingerprint

protest
amendment
guarantee
police
threat
organization
interaction
minority
event
lack

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

@article{d060a888ca4f47d59482f0b16f9b626c,
title = "Policing disorderly campus protests and convivial gatherings: The interaction of threat, social organization, and first amendment guarantees",
abstract = "Expectations about police responses to disorderly campus gatherings are explored here using details about nearly 400 disorderly convivial gatherings and confrontational protests that occurred during recent decades. Past work suggests that protests may represent threats to authorities, but protests also are privileged by the First Amendment, yielding conflicting expectations about the forcefulness of police responses. In contrast, convivial gatherings, even those that breach the public order, may be less threatening to authorities, while at the same time more difficult to police because of their comparative lack of social organization. Analyzing details of the gatherings, we find that while police frequently attempt to disperse disturbances of both kinds, they use force in only a small minority of them. However, police are substantially more likely to use force when protest participants also use force than when convivial participants do, suggesting that the relationship between threat and police response is heavily contingent upon the nature of the event as well as the behavior of participants. The findings highlight the interplay between the internal dynamics of gatherings and the way they are perceived by authorities.",
author = "McCarthy, {John David} and Andrew Martin and Clark McPhail",
year = "2007",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1525/sp.2007.54.3.274",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "54",
pages = "274--296",
journal = "Social Problems",
issn = "0037-7791",
publisher = "University of California Press",
number = "3",

}

Policing disorderly campus protests and convivial gatherings : The interaction of threat, social organization, and first amendment guarantees. / McCarthy, John David; Martin, Andrew; McPhail, Clark.

In: Social Problems, Vol. 54, No. 3, 01.12.2007, p. 274-296.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Policing disorderly campus protests and convivial gatherings

T2 - The interaction of threat, social organization, and first amendment guarantees

AU - McCarthy, John David

AU - Martin, Andrew

AU - McPhail, Clark

PY - 2007/12/1

Y1 - 2007/12/1

N2 - Expectations about police responses to disorderly campus gatherings are explored here using details about nearly 400 disorderly convivial gatherings and confrontational protests that occurred during recent decades. Past work suggests that protests may represent threats to authorities, but protests also are privileged by the First Amendment, yielding conflicting expectations about the forcefulness of police responses. In contrast, convivial gatherings, even those that breach the public order, may be less threatening to authorities, while at the same time more difficult to police because of their comparative lack of social organization. Analyzing details of the gatherings, we find that while police frequently attempt to disperse disturbances of both kinds, they use force in only a small minority of them. However, police are substantially more likely to use force when protest participants also use force than when convivial participants do, suggesting that the relationship between threat and police response is heavily contingent upon the nature of the event as well as the behavior of participants. The findings highlight the interplay between the internal dynamics of gatherings and the way they are perceived by authorities.

AB - Expectations about police responses to disorderly campus gatherings are explored here using details about nearly 400 disorderly convivial gatherings and confrontational protests that occurred during recent decades. Past work suggests that protests may represent threats to authorities, but protests also are privileged by the First Amendment, yielding conflicting expectations about the forcefulness of police responses. In contrast, convivial gatherings, even those that breach the public order, may be less threatening to authorities, while at the same time more difficult to police because of their comparative lack of social organization. Analyzing details of the gatherings, we find that while police frequently attempt to disperse disturbances of both kinds, they use force in only a small minority of them. However, police are substantially more likely to use force when protest participants also use force than when convivial participants do, suggesting that the relationship between threat and police response is heavily contingent upon the nature of the event as well as the behavior of participants. The findings highlight the interplay between the internal dynamics of gatherings and the way they are perceived by authorities.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=43249137489&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=43249137489&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1525/sp.2007.54.3.274

DO - 10.1525/sp.2007.54.3.274

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:43249137489

VL - 54

SP - 274

EP - 296

JO - Social Problems

JF - Social Problems

SN - 0037-7791

IS - 3

ER -