Policing Northern Ireland focuses on three key aspects of the police legitimation process: reform measures which are implemented to redress a legitimacy crisis; representational strategies which are invoked to offer positive images of policing; and public responses to these various strategies. Several key questions are asked about the ways in which the RUC has sought to improve its standing amongst nationalists: first, what strategies of reform has the RUC implemented? second, what forms of representation has the RUC employed to promote and portray itself in the positive terms that might secure public support? third, how have nationalists responded to these initiatives?
The theoretical framework and analysis developed in the book also highlights general issues relating to the implications of police legitimacy and illegitimacy for social conflict and divisions, and their management and/or resolution, in relation to transitional societies in particular. In doing so it makes a powerful contribution to wider current debates about police legitimacy, police-community relations, community resistance, and conflict resolution.