Enrico Gargiulo

Public order, private rules: Representations of the crowd and guidelines for confronting it in the Italian manuals for riot police

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This article aims at contributing to the debate on policing protest, focusing on police knowledge and its role in the management of public order. By means of the conceptual tools provided by critical discourse studies, this article examines some Italian police handbooks. Although these textbooks allow readers to observe only a part of police knowledge and do not give a completely realistic description of actual practices of the operators, they do reveal an interesting perspective on public order and its management. The police handbooks on which the article focuses express an articulate philosophy of security as well as quite a clear idea of the role played by police forces in keeping public order. Moreover, they examine fieldwork procedures in depth, give detailed descriptions of crowds and their behaviour, and describe the attitudes operators must exhibit while performing these services. More in general, police handbooks give precious information on the discretionary power that characterizes police activities in policing protests.


  • Policing Protest
  • Police Knowledge
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Police Handbooks
  • Discretionary Power


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