The Development of British Military Masculinities through Symbolic Resources
Within military culture there is a protected version of masculinity. The theory of symbolic resources (Zittoun, Duveen, Gillespie, Ivinson & Psaltis, 2003) recognises that people are positioned within different symbolic streams in the socio-cultural world, in which they can be displaced or can relocate themselves (Benson, 2001; Duveen, 2001). So an individual entering the military is relocating him or herself from a civilian socio-cultural world to a military one. 29 semi-structured individual interviews and three focus groups (each comprising three individuals) with male and female military personnel in Britain were conducted. Participants included Royal Marine, Army and Royal Air Force personnel and were of a variety of ranks. In accordance with the theory of symbolic resources, the unit of analysis for psychological development is the unit rupture-irruption of certainty-transition. This implies a process that leads to a new form of stability. This process is that which military personnel undertake in order for that which is uncertain and unfamiliar when they begin their training to become certain and familiar. Through focusing on the rupture that takes place during the training phase within an individual’s military career, one can explore how through symbolic resources, military masculinities develop.
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