The scholarship of Jean-Paul Brodeur/Jean-Paul Brodeur, l'homme et sa pensee.

AuthorStenning, Philip C.

This issue of the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice contains a number of contributions to mark the scholarship of Professor Jean-Paul Brodeur, of the Ecole de criminologie at the Universite de Montreal, Canada, and the Western world of academic criminology, lost one of its brightest stars when Jean-Paul passed away in 2010. Jean-Paul was also Associate Editor of the Canadian Journal of Criminology for many years. In this brief introduction, we provide some information on Jean-Paul, his career in criminology, and the contributions which follow.

Jean-Paul Brodeur, the son of a Quebec police officer, came to criminology by a somewhat unusual route. His formal academic education was in philosophy, a discipline which he continued to feel was rather more intellectually and analytically rigorous than that of criminology, to which he eventually gravitated. Indeed, that fastidious intellectual rigour was probably the characteristic of Jean-Paul that most impressed itself on the minds of the many fellow scholars and students who had the privilege of scholarly exchanges with him.

Becoming (after a relatively short while) the Directeur of the Centre international de criminologie comparee at the Universite de Montreal, Jean-Paul established himself as a leading figure in Canadian and francophone criminology. A tireless workaholic, who nevertheless found time to practise the gourmet culinary arts, the breadth (both in terms of topics, and geographically) and depth of his contribution to criminological understanding and knowledge was remarkable. His first major published work in this field--a study of the history of commissions of inquiry into police in Canada, 1895-1970--remains a key source on the politics of policing in Canada.

Jean-Paul's interest in commissions of inquiry, however, was not just academic; he served as research director to many of Canada's most important commissions of inquiry throughout his career. These included the Canadian Sentencing Commission (see below), the Keable and Duchaine Inquiries into the F.L.Q. crisis in Quebec, the Malouf Inquiries into the Stanley Cup riot in Montreal in 1992 and into the role of Montreal Community Police Service, and the Commission of Inquiry into the Conduct of Canadian Military Forces in Somalia, to name only some. In addition, he headed up several research projects commissioned by the Law Reform Commission of Canada. In 1990, he became a member of the Royal Society of Canada.


Jean-Paul's first and foremost criminological interest was police and policing. His most well-known theoretical contribution in this field is undoubtedly his seminal article, "High Policing and Low Policing: Remarks about the Policing of Political Activities," published in the journal Social Problems in 1983 and inspired by his experience as research director for the Keable and Duchaine Inquiries. He published an updated paper on this topic in light of post-9/11 events in 2007 in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. He wrote eruditely on many other policing topics, including police deviance (informed by, and informing, his work as a member of the Comite d'examen des plaintes de la Surete du Quebec), undercover police work and, most recently, the use of force by police, in which he interrogated Egon Bittner's ideas, and in particular, his claim that access to the use of force is the key defining characteristic of police. He organized several important international conferences in the 1990s, bringing together a wide range of scholars to discuss comparative policing issues and police effectiveness and reform. These papers were edited and published by him as Comparisons in Policing: An International Perspective (1995) and How to Recognize Good Policing: Problems and Issues (1998).

Jean-Paul also played an important role in the development of policing policy in Canada's First Nations communities. Working with Carol LaPrairie and Roger McDonnell, he undertook critical research into the policing of remote Cree communities in Quebec's James Bay region during the early 1990s that has had a lasting impact in these and other First Nations communities in Canada.

His last major work, The Policing Web, was recently published by Oxford University Press (2010). This volume represents a major contribution to the study of policing and an outstanding scholarly achievement. It is a pioneering attempt to synthesize and offer a theoretical analysis of the huge volume of research on policing that has accumulated around the world, but mainly in North America and Britain, since the beginnings of empirical research on the subject a half-century ago. It offers a theorization of policing that is derived from the seminal conceptualization offered by Egon Bittner in the 1970s, refining it and using it as an organizing principle for an encyclopaedic exploration of policing history and current practices and variants. The Bittner definition in terms of the police capacity to deploy legitimate force is expanded to encompass the broader idea that, to achieve order, the police are authorized to use a variety of means that are ordinarily illegitimate for citizens. This combination of sophisticated theory and a wide knowledge...

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