Reproducing a White Elite: The Chief Officers’ ‘Club’ in the London Metropolitan Police Service

Andre Clarke, Chris Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on the London Metropolitan Police Service, an organization charged with being institutionally racist. It asks why the percentage of black officers in senior positions remains so low, despite explicit formal attempts to change this situation. Rather than concentrating on the factors holding back the recruitment and promotion of black officers, the article examines how senior white officers managed their career journey. Through in-depth interviews with senior officers, the authors develop the notion of ‘social network volition’, linking to sociological literatures on race, social networks and elites in work and organisations. The notion of a ‘club’, composed of white senior officers, performs social network volition, defined as an invisible guiding hand that identifies, pursues, advises, and sponsors white officers who fit the existing leadership composition. The implications of the paper underline the need to make explicit the informal supports that reproduce whiteness while upholding the myth of merit.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Early online date25 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Sept 2023

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