Customer is king: promoting port policing, supporting hypercommercialism

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This ethnography of everyday policing realities in the European ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg presents an understanding of policing spaces where protecting and supporting global commerce dominate (Eski 2016a). In undertaking this research, I participated in the daily activities of 85 participants in Rotterdam (N = 52) and Hamburg (N = 33), consisting of 30 operational port police officers, 31 security officers, 10 customs officers and 14 others involved in port security-related matters (e.g. shipping agents, port authorities, boatmen and maritime engineers). These participants were collectively responsible for protecting the vulnerability of the just-in-time logistics by becoming the intervention, through which they become the very local threat to global commerce itself. In their policing struggles with management, colleagues and multiagency partners, as well as with the maritime business community and dangerous others (Hudson 2009), they are fighting a (silent) fight against having to appear to police for commercialism. However, they merely promote port policing without feeling they actually support the flow of global commerce. Frontline staff that deals with profile-raising port policing and what kind of (resistant) attitudes results from it, may deliver a new (method of studying ethnographically) hope against neoliberal policing, from within.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-168
Number of pages16
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number2
Early online date19 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Vol. 30, i. 2: Ethnography and the Evocative World of Policing (PART 2)


  • commercialism
  • ethnography
  • frontline policing
  • port security


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