Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Teague, C., & Leith, D. (2008). Men of steel or plastic cops: The use of ethnography as a transformative agent. In Proceedings of the Transforming Information and Learning Conference: Transformers: people, technologies and spaces. Perth, Australia: Edith Cowan University.


The Perth urban rail system, like many other rail systems in Australia and overseas, is subject to crime and anti-social behaviour around the railway environs from a small minority of the travelling public. The transit officers, who form part of the security section of the Public Transport Authority, are the people employed to deal with these incidents, which can result in transit officers being injured. To fully understand the violence and antisocial behaviour that they deal with on a regular basis and develop strategies to reduce this risk of injury, it was necessary to enter their world. The researcher in this paper explores the use of ethnography as an effective tool to access the transit officers’ space, allowing them to speak for themselves by their own words and actions, uncovering what normally they would take for granted; and the efficacy of this method of research as a transformative agent to guide interventions to reduce the transit officers’ risk of injury.