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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 134619 Find in a Library
Title: Fear and Loathing in Bologna and Rome: The Paper Police in Perspective
Journal: Journal of Social History (Fall 1987)  Pages:97-116
Author(s): S Hughes
Date Published: 1987
Page Count: 20
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The Italian public has traditionally viewed their police with a mixture of loathing and fear as the persons hired to enforce the law were often people of little character and only one step removed from the criminals they pursued. The seeming paradox of authority and repugnance embodied by the police was particularly evident in the sbirri of the Papal States.
Abstract: Politics and power determined the role of the sbirri as much as contemporary conceptions of deviance or disorder. While in other countries, the government made its representatives palatable to at least part of the population, in Italy, the sbirri represented a government that was arrested in its development. As the papal administration served the country's elite families as well as the Pope, the sbirri were the instrument of various autonomous pretensions. Any real reform of the police could come only with the destruction of old patterns of privilege, particularly in the Papal States. Even after the Italian unification, the public's hatred of the police endured. The police in Italy had such an old tradition of unpopularity that the Italian police still have difficulty in garnering public support. 107 notes
Main Term(s): History of policing; Public Opinion of the Police
Index Term(s): Foreign police/community relations; Italy
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