After twenty-five years of police service in urban Tyneside, Malcolm Young, a policeman and social anthropologist, was promoted to Superintendent of the West Mercia Constabulary. The arrival of this ‘import’ in West Mercia coincided with monetarist demands for efficiency and effectiveness, a political thrust which clashed against rural ideas of hierarchy and paternalism and a culture that denied credibility to outsiders. Detailing the way West Mercia operated and justified some bizarre practices, the ethnography shows how cultural identity was defined and deployed on a daily basis and explores the diverse and rich cultural baggage the rural world sustained in the face of intense calls for change. The author links the idiosyncratic practices he encountered to the racism he observed–a powerful means of maintaining social boundaries, defending edgy environments and preserving a semi-closed culture from the intrusions of outsiders.
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