Exploring the Myth of the Bobby and the Intrusion of the State into Social Space

  • Mark Brunger


This paper aims to increase the reader’s understanding of how the notion of the ‘bobby on the beat’ has been elevated to iconic, if not mythical, status within British policing. In doing so, the article utilises the semiotic idea of myth, as conceptualized by Roland Barthes, to explore how through representations of the ‘bobby on the beat’ police officers have been projected in a more avuncular re-assuring role to a public fearful of crime, which fails to do service to the signifying practices that accompany and embody the visible police patrol. Indeed, police patrol work secures social space for the State and although it does re-assure anxious members of society that their social world is safe and secure, for others, it further illustrates how their social space is fragile and troubled. On another level, the ‘bobby’ narrative has also been harnessed as part of a broader mythologizing of ‘Englishness’ and quintessential British characteristics.


Policing Semiotics of social space Myth Roland Barthes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Law and Criminal Justice StudiesCanterbury Christ Church UniversityKentUK

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