Talking to the Man: Some Gendered Reflections on the Relationship Between the Global System and Policing Subculture(s)

Benjamin Bowling, James Sheptycki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reflects on the interplay between the transnational subculture of policing and the subculture of transnational policing and pays particular attention to the encoding of masculine tropes within them. It uses the culture/subculture distinction to illuminate how gendered masculine identities help to mediate the relationship between the broader culture of control and the occupational subculture(s) of policing. The paper is part of an attempt to theorize global policing as a synecdoche of the global system, an idea that is fundamentally challenging to our ideas about the boundaries of the state. In this paper we draw attention to the specifically ‘masculinist’ nature of the discourse concerning global policing practice, which is often essentialized in dyadic terms; in extremis, in terms of chivalrous knights and rapacious Bluebeards. The paper looks at the militarization of US policing and briefly explores the global terrain of public order policing in the contemporary period, again drawing attention to the masculine tropes that pervade the scene. The paper endeavors to show how the prevalence of problematic masculine role-types in the enactment policing subculture(s) affects the global system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-134
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Policing Studies
Issue number2
Early online date24 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • transnational policing
  • global policing
  • militarization of policing
  • masculinity
  • subculture(s)


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