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Keywords:

  • military masculinities;
  • communities of practice;
  • military organization;
  • identities;
  • culture

This article seeks to explore the extent to which the military rebuilds or reframes masculinities as a means of meeting the aims of the process of militarization. It focuses on the dimensions of military masculinities that can be distinguished as distinctive in practice. Drawing on Etienne Wenger's notion of communities of practice, this research asks how military men orient themselves in their social and material world, considering the role of practice in the development of military masculinities. A total of 71 semi-structured interviews were conducted with 53 male and 18 female personnel of various ranks working in the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force. Six focus groups were also carried out (with a total of 10 male and six female participants). Thematic analyses of the narratives indicated that one outcome of militarization is the construction of military masculinities. The military reframes masculinities as a means of meeting the aims of the process of militarization. Dimensions of military masculinities can be distinguished as attributes and qualities and masculinities that are distinctive to the military are constructed through military practice. A strong sense of belonging to the military community of practice is fundamental to the development of military masculinities. In order to feel that one belongs, the recognition and acceptance of others is needed. Those who share the attributes and comply with the practices peculiar to the military achieve this recognition.