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Military Identities in the Situated Accounts of British Military Personnel

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel WoodwardORCiD, Dr Neil Jenkings



This article examines individual military identities as articulated by serving and former British military personnel. Following a review of approaches to military identities in both traditional military sociology and more contemporary sociologies of military personnel informed by post-structuralist theories, the article introduces a methodological approach to identities driven by respondents' perspectives generated during photo-elicitation interviews. These constructions of military identities rest on: the assertions and demonstrations of professional skill, competence and expertise of the trained military operative; the significance of fictive kinship and camaraderie amongst soldiers; and the place in identity work of personal participation in events of national or global significance. Military identity, we argue, is a locally emergent phenomenon, constituted by members' concepts of their own identity. These findings complement and develop existing sociological conceptualizations of military identities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woodward R, Jenkings KN

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociology

Year: 2011

Volume: 45

Issue: 2

Pages: 252-268

Print publication date: 01/04/2011

Date deposited: 26/03/2013

ISSN (print): 0038-0385

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8684

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0038038510394016


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