The Training of a Comprehensive Self in Military Education and Culture

Anne Roelsgaard Obling

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In light of the last two decades’ war operations and future challenges, it is often said that what the army needs is leaders or commanders who are agile, innovative, creative and adaptive to be able to operate in what is understood as an increasingly complex and uncertain world. To fashion these commander dispositions and renew military organizations, the argument goes, military education and culture must reinvent its pedagogical methods and programmes. Through an empirical study of a newly reformed educational program for general staff officers in the Danish army, the paper describes the complex array of practices, interactions and knowledge that makes up the program, including critical reflexion methods and role performance in various war games. The paper illustrates the kind of reality that is produced and reproduced to the officers through the set of pedagogical techniques that characterise the education, and how the engagement in this particular setting configures the military personae. By doing so, it basically explores how the programs’ methods and techniques come with the fashioning of specific types of personality and it asks: What kind of self is being cultivated through these practices? Decisively, the paper expands on Huntington’s and Janowitz’s original work on military professionals to argue that when new dispositions (e.g., agility, creativity, innovativeness) are added to the traditional curriculum of techniques it brings in new sorts of spiritual exercises of the self, which challenges the distinctiveness of the military mind.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventXIX ISA World Congress of Sociology 2018: Power, Violence and Justice: Reflections, Responses, Responsibilities - Toronto , Canada
Duration: 15 Jul 201821 Jul 2018
Conference number: 19


ConferenceXIX ISA World Congress of Sociology 2018
Internet address

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