skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 148868 Find in a Library
Title: Police Violence and Uncertainty in Latin America: Linking the Macro- and Micro-Levels of Analysis
Journal: International Criminal Justice Review  Volume:3  Dated:(1993)  Pages:44-59
Author(s): L G Gabaldon
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 16
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study of patterns of police violence in Latin America proposes a model to explain such violence by linking the macro- and micro-levels of analysis.
Abstract: Prior research on police violence in Latin America has emphasized the role of the authoritarian state; however, this explanation is problematic because impersonal bureaucratic structures are relatively weak in Latin America and because police violence occurs in a variety of political regimes. In addition, the authoritarian-repressive hypothesis provides no testable link between macro-level conditions and the micro-level situations in which police violence occurs. The proposed model is based on suggested, albeit limited, empirical observations of police work in Latin America and on a different interpretation of the historical development of the Latin American state. Micro- level studies of police work suggest that situational uncertainty is an important factor in police-citizen encounters. Uncertainty occurs when the police cannot easily anticipate the outcome of the encounter. Such uncertainty is fostered in part by cultural and social factors that characterize the development of Latin American police forces. The macro-level highlights the precarious role of the police as a social control agency; the micro-level focuses on the police's inability to obtain civilian acquiescence. Variables related to police uncertainty in a situation are the physical balance of power between police and citizens in a particular encounter, the material resources and training available to the police for problemsolving, and the probability that the police can withdraw from the encounter without abandoning legal imperatives or losing self-esteem. Variables related to the citizen's response to the police are the level of resistance to police intervention and the possibilities of joining with other citizens to oppose police intervention. The model predicts that the fewer the resources available to police and the lower the level of citizen submission to police, the greater the level of situational uncertainty for police and the greater the likelihood of police violence. 1 table, 1 figure, and 53 references
Main Term(s): Police Brutality
Index Term(s): Foreign police; Latin America; Police-citizen interactions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.