Shearing has, throughout his career, sought to reshape understandings of policing. He, with his collaborators, has coined terms such as “mass private property”, the “governance of security” and “nodal governance” that have become common parlance within the criminological lexicon. His analyses have been influential in developing “policing studies” as an area of inquiry beyond “police studies”.

Since his earliest research endeavours he has used a focus on the specific, to elucidate the general — initially police, then policing via private security, then, the governance of security and, most recently new securities, such as environmental security. These foci have provided him with an empirical lens through which to think about governance, regulation, security, new intelligent entities, and things as actors.

Together, these, and related insights have generated an integrated theoretical framework that has explored through a related set of projects that reshaped understandings of safety and security.