Holly Campeau starting new position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Alberta

May 26, 2017 by Sherri Klassen

Recent graduate Holly Campeau will be starting a new position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Alberta this fall. Holly completed her dissertation, Policing in unsettled times: An Analysis of Culture in the Police Organization in 2016 under the supervision of Ron Levi (supervisor), Candace Kruttschnitt and Josee Johnston.

Holly's dissertation studied how police used culture to understand the changes in their workplace. The abstract of her dissertation is as follows:

This dissertation examines how actors within a public sector institution - a police organization - use culture to make sense of a shifting occupational landscape. Interviews with 100 police officers and field notes from 50 ride-along hours were collected over the course of 18 months in the police service of a medium-sized city. Rather than conceive "police culture" as an ideal-type of values and attitudes, this project engages with concepts from sociological literature on culture and organizations to re-conceptualize police culture as a "resource" officers deploy to navigate what can be risky work in a contentious organization. First, contrasting traditional cultural depictions of police officers as unremittingly mission-oriented and indivisible, findings reveal the fragility of officer solidarity and unwillingness to engage with risky situations. Expanding surveillance outside the reach of law enforcement (e.g. cellphone videos, social media, etc.) contribute to uncertainty as officers carry out their duties. Second, police engage with a combination of myths and generational scripts in ways that both defend and challenge the status quo in their organization. "Old-school" scripts sustain the prominence of paramilitarism, camaraderie and athleticism. And while "new-generation" scripts are mainly deployed ceremonially to signal legitimacy to external policing constituents, some officers also use them to express the importance of education, the banality of military mindsets, and the need for equitable practices to be implemented on a more routine basis. Finally, results show that police rely on jointly established understandings about their local community to both perform and justify their organization's non-conformity with certain industry standards. Overall, insofar as change in policing is the objective in the current era of wavering public confidence and fiscal crisis, this study suggests that mere top-down policy reform is insufficient: organizational policy and actual practices are only loosely-linked and those charged with implementing a new course of action (i.e. senior officers) are often the staunchest supporters of non-change. Without a disruption to the lock-step hierarchical structure of the police organization, institutional reform is likely only to emerge generationally, as the most promising energy for transformative change rests among cohorts entering the occupation at a particularly unsettled time.

While here, Holly received the Dennis Magill prize for the best paper published on a Canadian topic and was also awarded both the CSA Best Student Paper Award and the ASA Culture section's Richard A. Peterson Award for best student paper. At the University of Alberta, she will be teaching Introduction to Criminology as well as an advanced seminar on Crime and Public Policy, and expects to develop a Policing course for the department in the near future. Holly will expand her research on policing and organizational culture and will continue current projects on justice reform in partnership with the Global Justice Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs. Holly is also broadening her focus beyond local level policing to explore questions about the new economy of innovation in the criminal justice sector as practitioners and government officials seek new ways of defining and measuring community safety.