Police researchers have long posited a connection between policing and belonging, or between policing and related concepts such as citizenship. However, much of this literature does not include empirical data demonstrating the actual impact of policing experiences on individuals and communities. Where it does, belonging is rarely located at the centre of analysis. In this article, I explore the role of policing in generating experiences and perceptions of belonging. I connect the theoretical literature on policing, borders and belonging by conceiving of everyday policing as a racialized process of social bordering, and present evidence from a qualitative study with migrant communities in southern-eastern Melbourne, Australia. I conclude that discriminatory policing reinforces social boundaries that are relevant to both ‘belonging’ and the ‘politics of belonging’, and identify police, in conjunction with other social actors and institutions, as potentially powerful agents of ‘governmental belonging’.
- governmental belonging
- politics of belonging