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Department of Political Science

Juan Tellez and co-authors on citizen-police relations in India’s slums

In an article published by World Politics, Juan Tellez and co-authors explore how citizens navigate relations with the police in communities characterized by informality and poverty. In these settings, the police can be unresponsive to community needs, or worse, extortionary in providing services. The study argues that individuals and communities with strong social networks use the threat of collective action to demand better policing, resulting in improved police relations and lower observed bribe prices. Interviews with informal leaders suggest that a community’s ability to withhold electoral support serves as powerful leverage for accessing services. The study is based on a large and innovative data-collection effort across three cities in India, which required a combination of remote sensing techniques and on-the-ground enumerators to delineate the boundaries of informal settlements. In all, the study collected information on over 150 sums and thousands of households, as well as semi-structured interviews with settlement leaders.

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