Over the last few decades, debates about policing in poor urban areas have turned from analyzing the state's neglect and abandonment into documenting its harsh interventions and punishing presence. Yet, we know very little about the covert world of state action that is hidden from public view. In The Ambivalent State, Javier Auyero and Katherine Sobering offer an unprecedented look into the clandestine relationships between police agents and drug dealers in Argentina. Drawing on a unique combination of ethnographic fieldwork and documentary evidence, including hundreds of pages of wiretapped phone conversations, they analyze the inner-workings of police-criminal collusion, its connections to drug markets, and how it promotes cynicism and powerlessness in daily life. They argue that an up-close examination of covert state action exposes the workings of an ambivalent state: one that both enforces the rule of law and functions as a partner in criminal behavior. The Ambivalent State develops a political sociology of violence that focuses not only on what takes place in police stations, courts, and poor neighborhoods, but also the clandestine actions and interactions of police, judges, and politicians that structure daily life at the urban margins.
About the Author
Javier Auyero is the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long in Latin American Sociology at the University of Texas-Austin where he directs the Urban Ethnography Lab. His main areas of research, writing and teaching are urban poverty, political ethnography, and collective violence. Auyero was the editor of the journal Qualitative Sociology from 2005 to 2010.
Katherine Sobering is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Texas. Her research examines inequality, politics and social change in the Americas. She is currently writing a book on organizational transformation and the construction of equality in worker-recuperated businesses in Argentina.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Clandestine Relations Matter
Chapter Two: Drug Violence in the Streets and at Home
Chapter Three: Collusion and Legal Cynicism
Chapter Four: Establishing the "Arreglo"
Chapter Five: Competition, Retaliation, and Violence
Chapter Six: Patchworks of Protection
Chapter Seven: Unpacking Collusion