Dancing with the devil? Participatory action research with police in South Africa

  • Monique Marks
Keywords: police, South Africa, partnerships, research


At the present moment, major changes are being proposed to the way that policing should be done in South Africa. These changes do not seem to be informed by any research agenda or by a long term strategic approach aimed at 'smarter policing'. This paper reflects on the possible partnerships that (academic) researchers and police could form with the shared objective of bring about change in police organisations. These collaborative research arrangements are undoubtedly difficult. Police and academic researchers continue to operate in silos and the two groups have distinctive institutional cultures, which are sometimes at odds with one another. However, as this paper tries to demonstrate, collaborative research is possible. This article is in many ways a personal reflection on my own research collaborations with the police using a participatory action research approach.

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Research articles