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Title: Soldiers and warriors : mythology and martial identity in the British Army
Author: Marks, Shay
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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In recent years, the British Army has begun to refer to its soldiers as ‘warriors’. This thesis asks as its central research question whether the term is appropriate. It explores the types of warrior represented in academia and examines the idea of ‘Warrior Ethos’; draws on concepts from evolutionary and social psychology; considers the warrior archetype; and discusses how these inform recent thinking about modern day warriorship. To see how the notion informs and reflects contemporary British Army martial identity, the views of soldiers, primary research collected through discussion groups, are documented; the opinions of a cohort of infantry Commanding Officers, offered by questionnaire, are recorded; and, finally, the thoughts of a number of senior officers, obtained through interview, are collated. In total over one hundred serving personnel were canvassed for their perception of martial identity and their sense of the word warrior. This is the first time that this issue has been examined in depth. The thesis makes an original contribution through extensive primary research with serving British soldiers in the immediate aftermath of recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My argument is that the term warrior whilst superficially attractive, has a complex and multifaceted character which makes its adoption problematic. Other conclusions are that there is no agreed definition of a warrior in academia, in mythology, across armies, within the British Army or amongst British soldiers, and that the term can be simultaneously meaningful and inspiring but also banal or misleading. Further, it lacks authenticity, and in its current guise is an imposition rather than an organic reflection of British army culture. Accordingly it doesn’t resonate with British soldiers, and so is unlikely to gain purchase. This would not be the worst outcome: a more worrying consequence is a selective reading of the word that creates momentum toward behaviour in small groups or more broadly, that is contrary to army norms, the culture of the British Army and societal expectation.
Supervisor: Payne, Kenneth ; Fennell, Jonathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available