Breaking the Law to Maintain Public Order

Outlaw Vigilantes
Debating Vigilantism
By Gilles Favarel-Garrigues, Laurent Gayer

Vigilantism covers a range of collective actions, often violent and usually illegal, whose proclaimed vocation is to maintain order and/or to render justice in the name of legal or moral norms. With this definition, our aim is not to freeze these practices in an irremovable concept. While presenting the literature and the debates around vigilantism, this introduction argues in favor of a dynamic analysis of citizens’ participation in policing, attentive to the changes occurring along the way in the repertoire of action of the groups under study. Our aim, here, is also to open new research avenues that go beyond the dichotomy substitution/complementarity concerning the relations with law enforcement agencies.

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