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State institutions and social identity: national representation in soldiers' and civilians' interview talk concerning military service

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journal contribution
posted on 18.07.2014, 10:16 by Stephen Gibson, Susan Condor
Theory and research deriving from social identity or self-categorization perspectives often starts out with the presumption that social actors necessarily view societal objects such as nations or states as human categories. However, recent work suggests that this may be only one of a number of forms that societal representation may take. For example, nations may be understood variously as peoples, places, or institutions. This paper presents findings from a qualitative interview study conducted in England, in which soldiers and civilians talked about nationhood in relation to military service. Analysis indicated that, in this context, speakers were often inclined to use the terms 'Britain', 'nation', and 'country' as references to a political institution as opposed to a category of people. In addition, there were systematic differences between the ways in which the two samples construed their nation in institutional terms. The civilians were inclined to treat military service as a matter of obedience to the dictates of the Government of the day. In contrast, the soldiers were more inclined to frame military service as a matter of loyalty to state as symbolically instantiated in the body of the sovereign. Implications for work adopting a social identity perspective are discussed. © 2009 The British Psychological Society.

Funding

ESRC (studentship no. PTA-030-2002-01503, awarded to the first author), the British Academy (grant no. OCG-47364, awarded to the first author), and the EC (contract no. HPSE-CT-2001-00077, grant no. SERD-2000-00, awarded to the second author.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

British Journal of Social Psychology

Volume

48

Issue

2

Pages

313 - 336

Citation

GIBSON, S. and CONDOR, S., 2009. State institutions and social identity: national representation in soldiers' and civilians' interview talk concerning military service. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48 (2), pp. 313 - 336.

Publisher

Wiley © The British Psychological Society

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publication date

2009

Notes

This article was published in the British Journal of Social Psychology [Wiley © The British Psychological Society] and the definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1348/014466608X349496

ISSN

0144-6665

Language

en

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Keywords

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