Social Scientist. v 4, no. 48 (July 1976) p. 3.


Graphics file for this page
DAVID ARNOLD

The Police and Colonial Control in South India

POLICE FORCES as we know them today are products of the developing capitalist state. Feudal society did not need a police constabulary. Towns were small and the manorial system closely regulated the life of the serf. Though the king exercised little direct control over his subjects., the feudal lord,, acting through his personal retainers and village officials, held the reins of social control in his locality. The disintegration of feudal society was accompanied by two developments. One was the gradual strengthening of a central government at the expense of the executive and judicial powers previously held by the feudal lords: this made the state (itself increasingly under middle-class direction) responsible for law enforcement. The second was a more rapid development. Commercial and, more especially, industrial growth created large urban centres and with them a proletariat, a new class which could not be controlled through the institutions of the traditional, predominantly rural, society.

As the first country to industrialize, England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was the first to confront the problems created by a large industrial workforce. Initially, savage punishments were used in an attempt to curb urban crime and discourage working-class political activity. When these failed troops were called out to



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page