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What were they fighting for: A review of morale and motivation from Operation Overlord to Enduring Freedom

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Morten Brænder - Lecturer

  • Department of Political Science

The 1949 publication of Studies in Social Psychology in World War II was based on a unique data material collected among US. Army troops, and it marked a landslide both in the history of social science in general and in the study of military sociology and psychology in particular. First and foremost, in his article on “Combat Motivations among Ground Troops” M. Brewster Smith thus showed that soldiers fight, not for their country, but for each other, for the military unit they are part of. Subsequent analyses – in Korea, in Vietnam and during the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 – have strengthened and modified, but by no means falsified, this assumption. The debate, however, leaves one central question unanswered. Why do the results change? Are the modifications due to structural changes in the U.S. Military – most significantly the introduction of the all-volunteer military in the early 1970s – or do they simply occur because the methods utilised change radically from the broad spectre pioneer studies conducted by the Army itself during the World War, to the embedded participant observations undertaken today?


16 Aug 2008

Event (Conference)

TitleViolence and Conflict, the 24th conference of the Nordic Sociology Associtation
CityAarhus Universitet

ID: 12198919