Anyone who considers questions of power cannot help but be struck by the ubiquitous nature, emotional force and political pull of the concept of order. In this book, Mark Neocleous examines the role of the police in the construction of this order.
After an initial exploration of the original relationship between police, state power and the question of order, he focuses on the ways in which eighteenth century liberalism refined and narrowed the concept of the police, a process which masked the power of capital and broader issues of social control. In doing so he challenges the way liberalism came to define policing solely in terms of the question of crime and the rule of law. This liberal definition created a limited and fundamentally misleading understanding of policing which remains in use today.
In contrast, Neocleous argues for an expanded concept of police, adequate to the expansive set of institutions through which policing takes place. These institutions are concerned not just with the maintenance or reproduction of order, but with its fabrication, especially the fabrication of a social order based on wage labour. This project, he argues, should be understood as the project of social security. Grasping this point allows a fuller understanding of the ways in which the state polices and secures civil society, and how order is fabricated through law and administration.