Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Gendered images of expertise, leadership and virtue: Applying Stivers' theoretical framework to police practices as represented in publications from 1979 to 2009
by Larson, Robin Lynn, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2012, 165; 3530683
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, a theoretical framework is developed from Camilla Stivers' (2002) argument that images of expertise, leadership and virtue are used to defend public administration's legitimacy in the face of criticisms about the inefficiencies of government and the power wielded by bureaucrats. Stivers argues that these legitimizing and traditional images have historical and cultural roots in ideas associated with masculinity, and that this harms women in the public sector.

The realm of policing faced similar criticisms and defended its legitimacy by altering practices, the day-to-day actions of police practitioners. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the possibility that police practitioners have defended their legitimacy on the same basis as public administrators have done: by offering images of expertise, leadership and virtue, which Stivers (2002) claims are deeply gendered.

Using Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA), imagery is qualitatively examined using Stivers' (2002) descriptions of characteristics, qualities, values and actions that she associates with images of expertise, leadership and virtue. Real-life portrayals of the police, in articles from two publications, are examined across time. The Police Chief and Law and Order have practitioners as their intended audience and sufficient tenure to examine imagery spanning several years. Imagery over time is salient since police practices have evolved, and are often associated with three particular practice paradigms: professional-reform movement, community-oriented policing, and intelligence-led policing. These paradigms offer potential differences in imagery since each paradigm has distinct practices.

Images of expertise, leadership and virtue are discovered and correspond to Stivers' (2002) framework. Masculine images of expertise offer interesting patterns, including the police as knowledgeable, specially trained experts who solve problems and educate the public. Masculine images of virtue portray the police as dedicated and committed professionals who protect the citizenry through laudable programs and initiatives. Masculine images of leadership are less prevalent, but consistently portray the police as controlling and direction-setting visionaries. Alternative imagery patterns include leadership images more aligned with femininity, such as collaboration and cooperation. Throughout the thirty-one years, these patterns of images are observed, despite differences in practices associated with the three paradigms of policing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Leip, Leslie A.
School: Florida Atlantic University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Public administration, Criminology, Gender studies
Keywords: Expertise, Leadership, Police, Stivers, Camilla, Virtue
Publication Number: 3530683
ISBN: 9781267705419
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