Governance and virtue: the case of public order policing

Kevin Morrell*, Stephen Brammer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


For Aristotle, virtues are neither transcendent nor universal, but socially interdependent; they need to be understood chronologically and with respect to character and context. This paper uses an Aristotelian lens to analyse an especially interesting context in which to study virtue—the state’s response when social order breaks down. During such periods, questions relating to right action by citizens, the state, and state agents are pronounced. To study this, we analyse data from interviews, observation, and documents gathered during a 3-year study of riot policing in the U.K. In doing so, we contribute by joining a number of other conversations within JBE, suggesting detailed empirical examination of this context is useful in opening up considerations relevant to ‘virtue’ elsewhere. This extreme context helps us raise interesting and empirically informed questions that can encourage future theoretical and empirical contributions to virtue in business ethics. One such question is on the role of habituation in virtue, which is not just the inculcation of a reflex or automaticity, but can also refer to a trained and developed tendency to behave in the right way, for the right reasons, at the right time. Whilst we stop short of a simplistic alignment of habituation and virtue, we show ways in which it can inform understanding of both courage and phronēsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-398
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Early online date28 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aristotle
  • Governance
  • Habit
  • Police
  • Riot
  • Virtue


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