The Employment of Ex-Military As Teachers: The Military, Masculinity and Moral Regulation
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This doctoral research has analyzed the employment of ex-military as teachers from a perspective of identity and culture. Using a single case study approach, including focus groups, interviews and observations, the research has explored a military academy within 'College', a further education institute in the south of England. Focusing particularly on the experiences of four teachers who had recently left the British Armed Forces, the analysis employs Pierre Bourdieu's habitus, field and capital to understand the macro, micro and subject level influences that shape field practice.
It is proposed that, at a macro level, moralizing discourse regarding undesirable working class youth has been positioned against an idealized masculine military power identity. This has overlaid existing discourse regarding the feminized nature of teaching and the marketization of education. This can be viewed as an ideological tension between a pervading centre-right perspective of education as a tool of social order and preparing the young for employment, dominating a broader liberal egalitarian ideal of education for comprehensive social reform. At a micro level, the construction of military identities was accomplished through capital exchanges regarding military experience and relational processes of differentiation with feminized 'others'. Student identity work used processes of imagination, constructing imagined social capitals through storytelling, symbolic interaction and ritualized performance. It is proposed that socialization with idealized military types, providing conceptualized forms of idealized vocational habitus, provided access to powerful imagined capitals on which students were able to draw in the construction of new identities.
The research indicates that there are both positive and negative outcomes to this identity work. The data shows that the identity work through the differentiation of feminized ‘others’ can lead to behaviours that could be viewed as aggressive or abusive. The research also argues that this identity work can have a motivating effect on students who want to join the Armed Forces, leading to successful educational attainment where identity narratives supported academic practice. With respect to the ex-military teachers themselves, the research witnessed the most successful transitions being made by the youngest members; the oldest member struggled to change to the new field conditions, his cultured military habitus disposing him to military practice, resulting in him positioning himself professionally through the capitals of his past.
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