Identification and Professionalization: Two Optics of Sociological Consideration of Military Personnel

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Sergey Startsev


This review article examines the factual and theoretical differences between rank-and-file military personnel and the military establishment and critically describes possible approaches that are used in analyzing military groups and institutions. It demonstrates that the theoretical framework of occupational group studies of military institutions fails to encompass a number of important elements of military reality—the rank-and-file soldiers and junior officers. The article argues that military as a pursuit and military as a profession do not always overlap. It considers identitarian sociology as an analytical resource for the conceptualization of ordinary soldiers and junior officers. However, borrowing from Rogers Brubaker, it then presents a number of arguments to demonstrate that the use of the concepts of identity sociology is essentially counterproductive, since the unsystematic and private use of the idea of “identity” only makes it more difficult to understand the differences and similarities between ordinary soldiers and the military establishment. In the conclusion some studies are presented that consider such distinctions and commonalities in order to identify the key to “military identity” and thus to gradate and nuance the military service person as a professional and the military as a mode of (self-)identification.

Article in English


Militarism Studies, Military Identity, Identitarian Sociology, Studies of the Army and Society

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