MA Thesis complete: Stress and Culture in Police Work

Five years after I began the Master of Arts in Criminology Program at Saint Mary’s University, I’m finally (unofficially) finished.  Overall, it took about three years to complete the thesis  research, writing and defence portion of my degree.  Although I had been working on it mostly part-time during that period, it feels good to announce that it’s completed.  Thanks to everyone who helped me in many different ways along the road to this point.  Mostly thanks to Sheena for putting up with my excuses over the past few years.  Nevertheless, it will be all official when I graduate in May 2006.

What was my thesis about? Well, here’s an abstract:

Stress and Culture in Police Work: An Ethnographic Study of Canadian Police Officers

To date, investigations of police stress and coping have been primarily addressed in psychological research. Largely due to individualistic methodology, little consideration has been given to the effect of work culture on coping with stressful events and situations in police work. In this thesis, I examined the viability of a ‘cultural coping’ approach, one that recognized the role of the occupational group in addressing stress and difficulty. I also examined prominent stressors of patrol officers. This analysis relied on ethnographic research of patrol officers in a mid-sized Canadian police department. Twenty field observation sessions involved police patrol ridealongs, after-work social gatherings and events. Patrol officers also participated in twenty-three structured interviews and sixty-four informal conversations and discussions. In total, contact was made with one fourth of all patrol officers in the department. I argue police culture provides a positive and palliative resource for coping with stress in police work and continues to direct the social action of police officers. ‘Surveillance stress’ is identified as an emerging concern in police work. I also argue that an ethnographic perspective is ideal for studying stress and coping.

So, if you want to read my Master’s thesis  in Adobe PDF format, david_macdonald_masters_thesis_oct_31_2005.   Feel free to comment on it below.

For those interested:   You’ll need the Adobe Reader to view the document.  (And if you’re an undergraduate trying to cheat and use portions of it in a paper, beware of the plagiarism police.  It’s all copyrighted material that will explode upon misuse!)

8 thoughts on “MA Thesis complete: Stress and Culture in Police Work

  1. Congrats Dave! I know how much work goes into one of these having completed one myself! Tell me the truth now, was the completion and defense what you expected it to be? I certainly was happy to never again have to work on mine when it was done but, the department stuff as well as publishing in journals was not as exciting as I hoped it would be. Then again, academia isn’t exactly a wild party kinda place. Still, it’s something to be proud of considering how much time we invested into our own research…


  2. Thanks everyone, it was certainly a joy to be able to announce it.
    As for the defence, it was a very positive event. I kinda relished it, as it was 2 hours that I could talk about something that I spent so much time on. I felt it was the finale to a chapter in my life. A good event for sure…the profs have talked about publishing. I may consider it, but perhaps after some time.


  3. I won’t say “well it’s about time!!”…cause if you had finished your thesis before , you may not have gained a different outlook on your thesis and be able to tell the stories from your own experience. Congrats again Big Bro, can’t wait to sit down, with a cup of coffee and read a good one…while propping up my futon with the thesis, ha ha just kidding!!!


  4. Congrats! Feels nice to have that monkey off your back, doesn’t it? You’d think the least they could have done for you was printed off the bastard by themselves and saved you the shipping costs. And if you had to sign something, well, just print off that page and send it to them.


  5. Well you know Dave, as an observer during your defence I enjoyed every minute of it. Now I’m pretty anxious to get a chance to read it. Congrats again Dave, Mom.


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