Understanding the Quiet Times: The Role of Periods of “Nothing Much Happening” in Police Work

Mike Rowe*, Michael Rowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Much media and academic representations of police work focuses on action, and moments of excitement, drama, and danger. In this article, we consider, instead, those long periods of relative inactivity that characterize routine operational policing, which we refer to as times of “nothing” (consciously using quote marks since we argue that these quiet periods are actually opportunities in which valuable work is done). We identify three types of “nothing”: nothing that is inevitable and necessary; nothing as a creative space; and nothing as the absence of demand. We argue that we need to understand these and their part in policing practice. Moreover, recognizing the importance of “nothing” in police work serves as a corrective to politicized representations of policing and can help derail aggressive, hypermasculinized policing tropes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number089124162110172
Pages (from-to)751-774
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number6
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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