Mark Neocleous, “A Critical Theory of Police Power: The Fabrication of the Social Order” (Verso, 2021)

A Critical Theory of Police Power: The Fabrication of Social Order (Verso, 2021) offers a critical look at policing and the power of the state, examining the relationship between our ideas of order and wider social and political issues.

First published in 2000, this new edition of Mark Neocleous’ influential book features a new introduction which helpfully situates this ever-relevant text in the context of contemporary struggles over police and policing.

Neocleous argues for an expanded concept of police, able to account for the range of institutions through which policing takes place. These institutions are concerned not just with the maintenance and reproduction of order, but with its very fabrication, especially the fabrication of a social order founded on wage labour. By situating the police power in relation to both capital and the state and at the heart of the politics of security, the book opens up into an understanding of the ways in which the state administers civil society and fabricates order through law and the ideology of crime. The discretionary violence of the police on the street is thereby connected to the wider administrative powers of the state, and the thud of the truncheon to the dull compulsion of economic relations.

Content warning: the last 2 minutes of the interview include a brief discussion of Mark’s current work on suicide.

Listeners who enjoyed this interview may enjoy my recent interviews with Mark on his most recent book The Politics of Immunity, with undercover police (“Spycop”) victims Helen Steel and Alison about Deep Deception, and with counterterrorism scholar Rizwaan Sabir about The Suspect.

Mark Neocleous is Professor of the Critique of Political Economy at Brunel University in London, and is well-known for his work on police power and security. His recent books include The Universal Adversary: Security, Capital and ‘The Enemies of All Mankind’ (2016); War Power, Police Power (2014); and the newly-reissued A Critical Theory of Police Power: The Fabrication of Social Order (2021).

Catriona Gold is a PhD candidate in Geography at University College London. She is currently researching the US Passport Office’s role in governing Cold War travel, and broadly interested in questions of security, surveillance and mobility. She can be reached by email or on Twitter.

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