Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Police -- Middle West -- Attitudes, Police -- Middle West -- Public opinion


Using a qualitative approach, I analyze data collected from two small Midwestern police departments. I gathered this data through a combination of methods: ethnographic interviewing, participant observation, and content analysis of police artifacts and documents. Most of the data derive from (1) my ethnographic interviews of 17 police officers and (2) my observations of officers during 16 "ride-along."

My analyses are guided by Goffman's (1959) dramaturgical analysis of face-to-face interaction, Manning's (1971; 1977) dramaturgical approach to policing, and Hunt and Manning's (1991) dramaturgical studies of police lying and the use of normal force (see also Hunt 1985). I rely most heavily upon the concepts of dramaturgic competency and incompetency (Wilkinson 1978), which are derived from Goffman's (1959) concept of impression management.

My thesis highlights two types of dramaturgic incompetency: individual and organizational. Individual dramaturgic incompetency refers to actions or situations when officers give off expressions that are detrimental to their police identity. Organizational dramaturgic incompetency refers to actions or situations that tarnish or reflect negatively upon the image of the department.

My thesis also examines the individual and organizational manifestations of dramaturgic competency. Individual dramaturgic competency refers to actions or situations when officers fulfill the demands of performative competence, empathic competence, and motive competence and, thus, effectively maintain their police identity (Wilkinson 1978). Organizational dramaturgic competency refers to actions or situations that sustain or reflect positively upon the image of the larger department.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Phyllis L. Baker, Chair


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit an email request to scholarworks@uni.edu. Include your name and clearly identify the thesis by full title and author as shown on the work.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (iii, 140 leaves ; 28 cm)



File Format


Included in

Criminology Commons