The theoretical and substantive importance of this claim has been surprisingly neglected by political geographers. Despite significant developments in theorising about the state (see for example Clark and Dear, 1984) and a widening of the empirical focus of political geographical studies, the police remain conspicuously absent from these accounts. By contrast, theoretical developments in political sociology have re-established the importance of the state’s powers of coercion, a power which is the distinctive resource of the police (see Giddens, 1985, and Nicholson, 1984), while the images and experiences of contemporary policing on the streets, on picket lines and at demonstrations have made the police conspicuously present in everyday life. This neglect of policing in political geography would appear to be for both political and geographical reasons.
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