Proud to ‘fly a desk’ and wear a medal? Interrogations of Military Pride through the eyes of the RAF Veteran

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Abstract

Framed by the author’s status as a former Royal Air Force (RAF) service-person and subsequently as a critical sociologist, this article considers the performative role of pride in both exceptionalizing and legitimizing military actors and the RAF, respectively. In so doing, auto-ethnographic material is included to reveal the mundane and unremarkable, yet illustrative experiences of the RAF clerk whose lifeworld as a military actor in a support role differs sharply from how he or she might be imagined by the wider public. In order to demonstrate this disparity in perception, attention is paid to the relative ease of RAF basic training, tensions between the assumed hardships of active service in a war zone and its reality, and the role of racism and individual agency in the RAF. Rather than pride, these reflections invoke a mix of authorial guilt and shame, the latter of which is rooted in the political role played by an institution whose violence is normalized and its members eulogized. The wider, normative aim of the article is animated by my own modest attempt to demilitarize through revealing the work pride does in canonizing an institution revered by the public.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Military Studies
Early online date4 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Nov 2022

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