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Twentieth Century Theories on Combat Motivation and Breakdown


Wessley, Simon. 2006. “Twentieth Century Theories on Combat Motivation and Breakdown.” Journal of Contemporary History 41 (2): 269-286. 

Author: Simon Wessley


All the combatant nations of the first world war struggled to deal with the problem of large-scale casualties that could not be ascribed to simple physical injury. After a brief flirtation with medical explanations (‘shell-shock’) these were soon realized to be psychological in nature, but not until the end of the war was there much consensus on whether these represented a psychological response to the stressors of industrial warfare, or alternatively a failure of motivation or even masculinity. Simultaneously combat motivation was seen within a moral framework that emphasized duty, patriotism, leadership and character. It was these latter virtues, or lack of them, that gradually came to explain combat breakdown, and not the psychological theories, even if modern narratives tend to overlook this. If a person had sufficient character, leadership and training, breakdown was unlikely even under the harshest conditions. By the end of the second world war, new thinking and research, mainly from the American forces, now downplayed the importance of ideological and personal factors, and instead concluded that the most powerful motivation for combat (as opposed to enlistment) came from the role of the small group — ‘men fight for their buddies’. Breakdown was still seen as the reserve side of combat motivation, most likely when the small group disintegrated, although ultimately even the most robust could succumb after prolonged combat exposure. However, provided that the individual was previously of normal personality, this would be short lived. Long-term illness was still almost entirely attributed to vulnerabilities acquired by inheritance or during childhood. Combat breakdown could also be made chronic by the influence of secondary gain, and so medical labels for combat breakdown were avoided, treatment was by reassurance and return to duty, and compensation was discouraged where possible. It was not until the aftermath of the Vietnam war that views on combat motivation and breakdown began to diverge. As a result of the efforts of American psychiatrists opposed to the Vietnam war a new medical label, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was introduced in 1980. It was now believed that not just transient, but also chronic, mental disorders could be caused by combat, even in those previously of robust disposition, and that the necessity for a diagnosis and compensation overcame concerns about illness reinforcement and secondary gain. Social explanations for breakdown based on group psychology largely disappeared, to be replaced by a framework based almost entirely on individual responses to trauma, although the role of predisposition quickly needed to be rediscovered. In contrast, the military continue to insist on the importance of small group psychology in explaining motivation to fight, and are distrustful of either ideological or individual explanatory models.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Post-Conflict

Year: 2006

'Romania is a Family and it Needs a Strict Father': Conceptual Metaphors at Work in Radical Right Populist Discourses


Norocel, Ov Cristian. 2010. “’Romania Is a Family and It Needs a Strict Father’: Conceptual Metaphors at Work in Radical Right Populist Discourses.” Nationalities Papers 38 (5): 705-721. 

Author: Ov Cristian Norocel


Investigating Romanian radical right populism, I evidence the gendered nature of conceptual metaphors and provide insights on the specific masculinities that they underpin in such political discourses. With the 2004 presidential elections as a backdrop, the analysis focuses on how the radical right populist candidates articulated in their discourses the conceptual metaphor of the “strict father.” At first, the theoretical standpoints on conceptual metaphors are corroborated with the conceptualization of populist charismatic leadership. Subsequently, a gendered perspective is added to the populist conceptualizations. The leaders' self-representation as messianic fathers of the national family is evidenced by investigating their discursive appeals to protect, discipline and punish the people. Furthermore, I elaborate how conceptual metaphors may be employed to consolidate a position of uncontested leadership and moral superiority of the radical right populist leaders.

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Governance Regions: Europe, Eastern Europe Countries: Romania

Year: 2010

Proving Themselves: The Status of LGBQ Officers


Miller, Susan L. and Terry G. Lilley. 2014. “Proving Themselves: The Status of LGBQ Police Officers.” Sociology Compass 8 (4): 373-383. 

Authors: Susan L. Miller, Terry G. Lilley


The policing occupation, a bastion of hegemonic masculinity, is well known for its historical resistance to “difference,” whether among its own members or in society at large. Nowhere does this clash manifest as strongly as when LGBQ police officers join the force. LGBQ individuals have made great strides in breaking down some beliefs of the traditional and rigid police occupational culture. Still, more progress remains to be made toward dismantling the barriers of heterosexism and sexism that often permeate policing. This article explores the history of these barriers, the progress made, and the structural and individual level obstacles that remain. Policy recommendations and suggestions for future research are also made.

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Governance, LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexuality

Year: 2014

Gender Apparatus: Torture and National Manhood in the U.S. War on Terror


Mann, Bonnie. 2012. “Gender Apparatus: Torture and National Manhood in the U.S. War on Terror.” Radical Philosophy: A Journal of Socialist and Feminist Philosophy 168 (2). 

Author: Bonnie Mann

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Nationalism, Terrorism, Torture Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2012

Toward an Understanding of Gendered Agency in Contemporary Russia


Holmgren, Beth. 2013. “Toward an Understanding of Gendered Agency in Contemporary Russia.” Signs 38 (3): 535-542. 

Author: Beth Holmgren


Assessments of Russian women’s current social and political status must take into account the complicated legacy of Soviet women’s “emancipation.” Although the Soviet government enforced women’s access to higher education and a broad array of professional opportunities, it never challenged traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, or the double burden tacitly assigned women. It did not invest in products and services that would have eased “women’s work” as homemakers and caretakers, nor did it protect women from sexual harassment on the job. The transition years have bared, glorified, and globalized the patriarchal state that lay just beneath the socialist veneer of the Soviet Union. Indeed, the Putin government has repackaged that patriarchy as conventionally and commercially masculinist. Women do exercise some power as consumers and mothers; they seek other-than-material fulfillment in facilitating positions rather than face opprobrium as public leaders. Some are attempting to scout new forms of agency as managers and business entrepreneurs. Yet there is no straightforward upward ladder for women in work and no generally acceptable movement toward lobbying for women’s rights. The women who wield the greatest sociopolitical influence in Russia today are media pundits, writers of serious literature, and journalists who combine writing with general social and political activism. In order to bridge the great divide in historical conditioning and contemporary circumstance that separates us from Russian women, we must work toward a better understanding of their complex forms of agency.

Topics: Citizenship, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Masculinism, Governance, Livelihoods, Political Participation Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2013

The Impact of Japanese Corporate Transnationalism on Men’s Involvement in Family Life and Relationships


Yasuike, Akiko. 2011. “The Impact of Japanese Corporate Transnationalism on Men’s Involvement in Family Life and Relationships.” Journal of Family Issues 32 (12): 1700–25.

Author: Akiko Yasuike


This study examines the ways in which Japanese corporate transnationalism affects husbands’ involvement in family life and marital relationships primarily from a perspective of wives. It is based on interviews with 22 Japanese wives and 4 husbands. Studies of Japanese corporate transnationalism treat men as mere supervisors to local workers or representatives of corporations and pay little attention to their family relations. The study found that corporate transnationalism weakens the Japanese masculine corporate culture (which creates absent husbands and fathers) and consequently provides Japanese men an opportunity to consolidate family bonds and integrate themselves into family life, though not all men take advantage of this opportunity. Inasmuch as transnational corporate families are isolated from their friends and relatives in Japan, the degree and willingness of husbands’ involvement in family life has a substantial effect on the quality of marital relationships.

Keywords: gender, family, corporate transnationalism, Japanese

Topics: Economies, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Households, Multi-national Corporations Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2011

Judi Bari and ‘The Feminization of Earth First!’: The Convergence of Class, Gender and Radical Environmentalism


Shantz, Jeffrey. 2002. “Judi Bari and ‘The Feminization of Earth First!’: The Convergence of Class, Gender and Radical Environmentalism.” Feminist Review, no. 70, 105–22.

Author: Jeffrey Shantz


This paper addresses feminist materialism as political practice through a case study of IWW-Earth First! Local 1, the late Judi Bari's organization of a radical ecology/timber workers' union in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California. Rejecting the Earth First! mythology of timber workers as 'enemies' of nature, Bari sought to unite workers and environmentalists in pursuit of sustainable forestry practices against the devastating approaches favoured by multinational logging corporations. In so doing, she brought a working-class feminist perspective to the radical ecology of Earth First! Bari's work provided a significant instance of community organizing in opposition to the masculinist, exclusionary practices and misanthropic posturing of Earth First!'s self-proclaimed 'eco-warriors' and 'rednecks for nature'. What is perhaps most interesting about the deveelopment of Local 1 is the articulation of feminist, environmentalist and labour discourses through a series of political actions.

Keywords: ecofeminism, anarchism, syndicalism, Earth First!, industrial workers of the world, deep ecology

Topics: Civil Society, Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Multi-national Corporations, Political Participation Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2002

Rape of the Congo: Understanding Sexual Violence in the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo


Meger, Sara. 2010. “Rape of the Congo: Understanding Sexual Violence in the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 28 (2): 119-35.

Author: Sara Meger


Though the occurrence of rape in the conduct of war is by no means historically new, research into its causes and functions has only really begun in the past couple of decades. War rape is a difficult phenomenon about which to generalise, considering the variances in context and actors involved. This article, however, attempts to synthesise existing literature through the analysis of a case study that can enhance our understanding of rape as a weapon of war and the contextual conditions that facilitate its use. Applying this theoretical framework to the extreme war rape occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this article offers insight into understanding the function of sexual violence in the ongoing conflict in the DRC. In particular, this article argues that the use of rape as a weapon in the Congo's bloody war must be understood in relation to both social constructs of masculinity and the politics of exploitation that have shaped much of the country's history.

Keywords: sexual violence, conflict, women and war, rape, Congo

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2010

"Once Intrepid Warriors": Modernity and the Production of Maasai Masculinities


Hodgeson, Dorothy. 1999. ""Once Intrepid Warriors": Modernity and the Production of Maasai Masculinities." Ethnology 38 (2): 121-50.

Author: Dororthy Hodgeson

Keywords: tanzania, maasai, masculinity, gender, modernity

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Masculinism Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 1999


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