BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Deconstructing the myth of the British military masculine ideal. Military masculinities in the British Army, 1960-2020

    Arnott, Lee (2023) Deconstructing the myth of the British military masculine ideal. Military masculinities in the British Army, 1960-2020. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    Final thesis submission April 23.pdf - Full Version

    Download (4MB) | Preview


    This thesis looks at the historical British military ideal from 1960 to 2020, using four stages of a soldier’s career to examine military masculinities. An analysis of recruitment materials shows which qualities were deemed officially desirable for soldiers and reveals the repeated tropes which affirmed the standards of military masculinity. These standards were inculcated into new recruits in the training process and analysis of training materials reveals a training regime which was unchanged by time and which took place in masculinised environments. These environments placed specifically gendered expectations upon recruits and the thesis explores the various resources of capital recruits could draw upon in which to assert their fledgling military identities and masculinities. The thesis explores the early part of the Northern Ireland conflict to analyse military masculinities in active service and looks at the drivers of masculinities in the conflict and the situational capital and resources soldiers could use to consolidate their own masculinity. The conflict’s effects continue into the present, evidenced by the consideration of what happens to soldiers when their careers are over, and their avenues for masculine expression are ended. While some suffered with psychological effects of the conflict, there is also a yearning and nostalgia for the past, expressed in online military forums. These forums are found to be a place where masculine capital is also available, whether that be through displays of technical prowess and knowledge, or the reliving of past sexual glories. Finally, the thesis looks at the experience of gay, female and trans-female soldiers, analysing how institutionally the army has historically tried to exclude anything which was outside the mould of the heterosexual male. Unearthing the strategies these subordinated groups deployed to successfully perform their own military masculinities exposes the constructed nature of gender and challenges essentialist notions of masculinity as a fixed, stable trait which is the sole preserve of heterosexual men.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: Date of award confirmed as 2023 by registry.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 02 May 2023 10:27
    Last Modified: 01 Jul 2024 11:35


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item