Potentially “dangerous liaisons”

Authored by: Eyal Ben-Ari

Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in Military Studies

Print publication date:  June  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415635332
eBook ISBN: 9780203093801
Adobe ISBN: 9781136203312


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Mastering Soldiers is an ethnographic study of an infantry battalion of the Israeli Defence Forces in which the author served for eight years. As an officer in the unit and a professional anthropologist, the author was ideally positioned for his role as participant observer. During the years he spent with his unit he focused primarily on such notions as “conflict,” “the enemy,” and “soldiering” because they are, he argues, the key points of reference that form the basis for interpreting the environment within which armies operate. Relying on anthropological approaches to cognitive models and the social constructions of emotions, the author offers an analysis of the dynamics that drive the men’s attitudes and behavior. In addition to his participation in staff meetings, he observed training exercises, took notes during conversations with his fellow reservists, and conducted 30 interviews.

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