Military Loyalty as a Moral Emotion

Connor, James, Andrews, Dia Jade, Noack-Lundberg, Kyja and Wadham, Ben (2019) Military Loyalty as a Moral Emotion. Armed Forces and Society . ISSN 0095-327X

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0095327X19880248

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Loyalty between soldiers is idealized as an emotion that promotes cohesion and combat effectiveness. However, little empirical work has examined how military personnel understand, feel, and enact loyalty. We use a symbolic interactionalist informed frame to explore the lived experience of 24 retired Australian Defence Force members via in-depth semi-structured interviews. Our analysis revealed three core themes: (1) Loyalty as reciprocity, where there was an expectation that loyalty would be returned no matter what. (2) The importance of emotional connection for cohesion. (3) Loyalty as a prioritizing process, where a soldier’s loyalties gave them a way of choosing between competing demands. Loyalty is a moral emotion that enabled sensemaking. Close interpersonal loyalties tended to trump wider/diffused loyalties. Respondents understood their loyalties to fellow soldiers within wider social constructs of mateship and professionalism. The findings show the risks that come from a reliance on loyalty for combat cohesion.

Keywords:sociology, discipline, loyalty, emotions, cohesion
Subjects:L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:41956
Deposited On:07 Sep 2020 09:13

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