Armed Forces & Society

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Politicalization or Professionalism? A Case Study of the Military’s Discourse in China

    After decades of military reform, how does the Chinese military justify its persistent role in politics and social life? This mixed-methods study examines the discursive strategies used by military deputies to understand how a semi-professional military speak to its relations to the Party, its own organizational missions and goals, and potential conflicts between them. Computer-assisted text analysis is combined with targeted deep reading to identify and examine latent topics in comments made by military deputies between 2001 and 2017. The findings show that the military deputies simultaneously mobilize a political discourse and a discourse of professionalism. This duality of discourse constitutes a source of legitimacy for the military’s pursuit of corporate interests.

  • When OK is Not OK: Public Concern About White Nationalism in the U.S. Military

    Are Americans aware and concerned about White nationalism in the U.S. Military? Our large and demographically representative survey suggests that while most Americans suspect at least some presence of White nationalism in the military, many do not view it as a serious problem; particularly self-identified conservatives and respondents who hold highly favorable views toward military service members. However, in a between-/within-subjects experiment embedded in our survey, we show that providing information about the issue of White nationalism in the U.S. Military increases the public’s overall concern about White nationalism in the U.S. Military.

  • Beyond the Conventional Civil–Military “Gap”: Cleavages and Convergences in Israel

    This article modifies the framework for the analysis of civil–military “gaps” proposed in Armed Forces & Society (Vol. 38, 2012) by Rahbek-Clemmensen, Archer, Barr, Belkin, Guerro, Hall, and Swain, who depicted a continuum of four binary fissures (“gap dimensions”) dividing two hypothetically homogeneous communities: civilians versus military personnel. Extrapolating from Israel’s experience, this article instead visualizes a more dynamic and fissured landscape, inhabited by several heterogeneous clusters of population groups, each comprising impromptu coalitions drawn from both the armed forces and civilian society. That environment, we argue, although certainly influenced by the traditional penetrability of Israel’s civil–military boundaries, more directly reflects current technological and cultural processes, which are transforming encounters between civilians and military personnel in other countries too. We therefore suggest replacing the predominantly dichotomous taxonomies that generally characterize studies of civil–military relations in contemporary democratic societies with the fractured format observed in the Israeli case.

  • Contractors in Iraq: Exploited Class or Exclusive Club?

    Corporate privatization of security has generated a neoliberal iteration of an old profession: the private military contractor. This development has revolutionized security policies across the globe while reviving old patterns of inequality. Following neoliberal logic, outsourcing fosters two types of employment: the exploitative and the exclusive. The first refers to low-status individuals hired en masse to perform menial labor; the second refers to experts who perform functions central to the employer’s mission. We contribute to this discussion by focusing on the qualifications of a different subsample of this industry: American contractors who died while performing military and security functions in Iraq. We assert that such American employees directly engaged in mission-essential combat and security functions better fit the employment category of an exclusive, expert sector at the core of the private military industry.

  • Patriotism or Paychecks: Who Believes What About Why Soldiers Serve

    Although voluntary recruitment to the military is today the Western norm, we know little about citizens’ beliefs regarding service members’ reasons for joining. This article, reporting and analyzing the results of a nationally representative U.S. survey, rectifies this gap. We find that, despite the reality of market-based recruitment, many Americans continue to subscribe to an idealized image of service members as moved by self-sacrificing patriotism. This belief is most heavily concentrated among conservative Americans. Liberal Americans are more likely to believe that service members join primarily for economic reasons. Those furthest to the left are more inclined to aver that service members join chiefly to escape desperate circumstances. Perhaps most surprising, we discover a disconnect between respondents with military experience and their families: The former are more likely to acknowledge that pay and benefits are a primary motivation for service, whereas their families are more likely to embrace a patriotic service narrative.

  • Presidents and Generals: Systems of Government and the Selection of Defense Ministers

    Defense ministers are among the most central players in democracies’ civil–military relations. This article aims to identify the determinants of the selection criteria of defense ministers in democracies and semi-democracies. More specifically, it attempts to measure the effects of systems of government on decisions to appoint civilians or military officers to head the defense ministry. We argue that some characteristics of presidentialized regimes lead to the appointment of military defense ministers. This is a novel contribution, one that connects the literature on civil–military relations and that on systems of government. To assess our hypothesis and its mechanisms, we use comprehensive cross-national data in 1975–2015. Our tests indicate a robust association between presidentialized systems of government and the appointment of military ministers. We also show that military defense ministers are associated with some relevant outcomes. These findings have important implications for the study of civil–military relations, defense policy, and democracy.

  • Peace Processes and the Integration of Pro-Government Militias: The Case of Village Guards in Turkey

    Militia groups have only recently started to attract scholarly attention in the literature on internal conflicts. This attention is mostly focused on either the causes of their emergence or their functions and performance during the conflict. The role of militia groups in post-conflict processes, however, has not been adequately addressed. This article intends to fill this gap by analyzing the case of village guards, a type of pro-government militia system in Turkey, based on qualitative evidence from field research. While the dominant narrative in the literature identifies militia groups as spoilers in peace processes, the article shows that militias do not act as spoilers under certain conditions. In the case of the village guard system in Turkey, the permanent integration of militias into the state’s regular military apparatus prevented militia groups from acting as spoilers. It then argues that the permanent integration of wartime militia systems is a consequence of two factors: militia networking and a lack of comprehensive peace-building structures.

  • Book Review: The strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the call of national security
  • The Power of Experience? Innovative and Authoritative Leadership Values Among Danish Army Cadets

    Traditionally, the military is seen as an unequivocally authoritarian organization. With survey data collected at the Royal Danish Military Academy, this study shows that that is a qualified truth. Thus, cadets enrolled directly from the noncommissioned officer corps—those most acquainted with the norms of the armed forces—do not weigh authoritarian leadership values over nonauthoritarian ones. Instead, their view reflects that for the experienced leader, the context, and not overt ideals, enables them to choose the leadership tools they expect will prove most effective. On the contrary, cadets enrolled based on their civilian merits clearly prioritize authoritarian values. This is particularly true among cadets returning to the military after a break, former professionals, and former draftees alike. Their view also reflects experience, but a different kind of experience, as they have primarily encountered the military hierarchy from the receiving end.

  • Social Mobility and Promotion of Officers to Senior Ranks in the Royal Navy: Meritocracy or Class Ceiling?

    This article examines the extent to which socioeconomic background affects the chances of promotion to senior ranks within the Royal Navy and how the upwardly mobile often face a “class ceiling.” The researchers collected quantitative data within the Royal Navy. The research found a disproportionate overrepresentation of officers from socioeconomically advantaged backgrounds, creating a homogenous upper echelon and self-selecting elite hierarchy. The authors argue for the systematic collection of socioeconomic background data and longitudinal analysis to focus efforts toward engendering the conditions for social mobility and the ability to quantitatively assess the impact of policy changes on future social mobility outcomes. The research contributes to understand contemporary social mobility issues and is the first quantitative analysis of Royal Navy officers’ socioeconomic backgrounds. The research provides perspectives on which other Armed Forces (including the United States) that face diversity issues could reflect. The article repositions military issues in mainstream academic discourse.

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