The exercise of social control in cities has been linked in a fundamental way to a wide variety of policing mechanisms in urban contexts. This article builds on the literature on urban policing by foregrounding ‘masculinities’ as a unit of analysis for understanding everyday practices of law enforcement on city streets. It describes quotidian interactions between male public transport vehicle operators and traffic police in contemporary Kolkata, India, to make a set of analytical observations about three interrelated concerns (a) the gendered character of urban policing, (b) the emotional and moral ethos of urban law enforcement, and (c) the production of the city as a male space. Through these analyses the article develops the concept of ‘homosocial trust’ as an explanatory framework for understanding gendered dimensions of the everyday state, place-making, and mobility in the ordinary city. Such a heuristic draws thought to the vocabulary of masculinity used by men, who are otherwise framed in a conflictual relationship, to transact situational trust and make city streets inhabitable for themselves. The article shifts the emphasis in studies of urban policing away from conflict to mundane collaboration between law enforcement officers and urban publics to highlight the masculinities of everyday state practice through which the city is reproduced as a space of patriarchal power. The article draws on ethnographic interviews with autorickshaw drivers, taxi drivers, traffic police personnel, and participant observation at workshops conducted by the police with transport workers to sensitize them to safe road practices in Kolkata.

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City : analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Chowdhury, R. (2020). Homosocial trust in urban policing: Masculinities and traffic law enforcement in the gendered city. City : analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. doi:10.1080/13604813.2020.1781410