Collateral Damage: Race, Gender, and the Post-Combat Transition
Repository Usage Stats
Research on the military has historically focused on the potentially de-stratifying effects of service, including reductions of racial inequality and social mobility. Taking a life course approach, this prior research tends to claim that the military is a positive turning point in the lives of disadvantaged men. Scholars point to the educational benefits of the GI Bill, racial integration, and health care to claim that military service, especially during peacetime, is largely beneficial to service members. While it is certainly the case that the military has provided some historical benefits to marginalized groups, recent research has given us strong reasons to question how beneficial military service is to stigmatized groups. Significant racial and gender inequalities remain, and in some cases, are deepening. Drawing on 50 in-depth interviews with veterans this dissertation examines how the organizational habitus of the military, despite organizational proclamations of meritocracy, may contribute to inequality. Focusing on the unintended consequences of military polices surrounding mental health problems, discrimination, and family relations, I create a synthesis of organizational and critical race theories to show how military policies may compound problems for soldiers and veterans. Focusing on the contradictions between stated organizational policies and actual practice, I show how the organizational arrangements of the military normalize overt expressions of racial and gender based discrimination, creating a sometimes-hostile environment for women and minorities and leaving them little recourse for recrimination. When policies protecting the stigmatized undermine the power and prerogatives of commanders or conflict with the militaries mission, it is not the powerful that suffer. Further, I show how military policies promoting family, such as extra pay for married soldiers, are at odds with the multiple deployments and high mental health incidences of this generations wars. Although the military relies on women on the "home front," as a basis of support, the exigencies of service undermine relationship stability.
I argue that traditional findings on the de-stratifying effects of service are partially a product of an analytical frame that neglects internal organizational dynamics.
More InfoShow full item record
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Rights for Collection: Duke Dissertations