United agents: community of practice within border policing in the Baltic Sea area

Forskningsoutput: Typer av avhandlingarDoktorsavhandling

13 Nedladdningar (Pure)


The risks and insecurities emphasised in contemporary societies have given rise to diverse forms of policing, such as transnational and intelligence-based police collaborations. This dissertation focuses on a border police collaboration project, called Turnstone, that took place between 2014 and 2015, aiming to address issues related to irregular migration and cross border crimes in the Baltic Sea areas. The purpose of this study is to provide a community of practice perspective on cross- border police collaboration drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with a number of intelligence police, coast-guard, and border guard officers from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden. 

The study illustrates the everyday interactions as well as the formal processes and practices that have generated a trust-based collaborative environment, which is necessary for sharing secret intelligence information. Increasing demands of collaboration places the officers in an ambivalent position: their neighbouring countries are both their work partners and the ”source” of the cross-border criminals. Two processes account for the emergence of a community of practice: 1) the development of a common linguistic repertoire (a set of norms and values that served as guidelines for streamlining and guiding the pursuit of their joint daily activities), and 2) the actors’ engaging in what they consider “real police work”. The study shows how the participants are at pains to reconcile between these two demands: “real police work” involving “action” and aiming at catching criminals, versus formal work practices, such as attending formal meetings and writing reports, thereby catering to bureaucratic needs. 

By focusing on their joint activities organized during the project (referred to as Power Weeks), the study shows how a trust-based relationship, which is necessary for the exchange of culturally, politically and professionally sensitive information, has gradually developed by the participants in and through their joint engagement in these everyday practices. The study highlights the importance of both informal face-to-face encounters and more formal processes in the development of the group as an entity. The findings of this study suggest that working together, attending formal meetings, producing reports, sharing sensitive information, and profiling suspects are equally important as the informal after-work activities. The Power Weeks included various episodes of telling stories and sharing jokes and this has proved to a be a fertile context for generating trust, knowledge, and innovative work practices. The study emphasises the relevance of community of practice for understanding how participants from different organizational and cultural contexts brought together in a project can develop a collaborative environment around sensitive issues. 

  • Åkerström, Malin, Handledare, Extern person
  • Wästerfors, David, Handledare, Extern person
StatusPublicerad - 2018
Externt publiceradJa

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