Going nodal: Multi-sited policing ethnography

Clifford Shearing, T Mutongwizo, Clifford Shearing

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Ethnographies of policing have overwhelmingly focused on the work of traditional security actors, namely the public police, in local communities. By comparison, ethnographic research on the poly-centric and multi-scalar networks of power that govern and provide security around the world remains a rarity despite increased theoretical interest in nodal governance, plural policing, transnational policing, and international police-building. In this regard, ethnographic research on policing appears to be disconnected from important theoretical developments in the field. At the same time, researchers who study these complex webs of security governance qualitatively typically rely on key stakeholder interviews and documentary sources rather than ethnographic methods. Accordingly, this chapter considers the methodological possibilities, benefits, and challenges of studying policing assemblages using multi-sited ethnographies. The primary benefit of multi-sited ethnography is that it allows researchers to situate themselves in different security nodes in order to examine the development, translation, and implementation of security policies and practices within and across different fields of power. This provides researchers with a strategy for developing first-hand, empirical insight into how and why policing mentalities, technologies, resources, and institutions are structured by their position in a wider field, and in turn structure the field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge International Handbook of Police Ethnography
    Editors Jenny Fleming, Sarah Charman
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    ISBN (Print)9780367539399
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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