Understanding police violence is important in part because police violence, if generally tolerated, could transform a society based on law into one governed by political and personal whim. This research asks whether the conflict perspective can explain which groups are more likely to approve of police use of force, and whether several dimensions of power are at issue or just a few. Previous studies have found that race is the most important factor in determining approval of police use of force. Gender, age, class, and other variables have shown mixed results. Using a national sample (1998 General Social Survey), this paper contributes a more comprehensive examination of this issue to the small body of literature in this area. We look at approval of police use of force in five scenarios. Our findings show that minorities and women are more likely to disapprove of police use of force. Supporting a narrow application of conflict theory, other dimensions of power appear not to affect attitudes toward police hitting citizens. Context of violence matters too. When situations are not actively threatening for officers, by near consensus, violence is unacceptable. Disagreement comes from less clear-cut circumstances.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_daniel_lee/5/