Militarization, stigma, and resistance: Negotiating Military Reservist Identity in the Civilian Workplace

Paul Higate, Antonia Dawes, Timothy Edmunds, Neil Jenkings, Woodward Rachel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
244 Downloads (Pure)


Set against the backdrop of the British Government’s Future Reserves 2020 (FR2020) programme, this article addresses military reservists’ experiences of how they are perceived by civilian colleagues in the workplace. Drawing on qualitative interviews with reservists, it analyses their understandings of civilian co-workers’ qualified and sometimes reluctant acceptance in light of FR2020’s implicit aim to use reservists to help realign civil–military relationships. While it appears that civilian work colleagues’ social distancing of reservists helps consolidate the wider public’s perceived lack of understanding of the British armed forces, a more critical view sees reservists’ largely unchallenged presence in the workplace as an exemplary, yet subtle instance of militarization. This is because reservists’ simultaneous (physical) inclusion and (social) distancing or stigmatization constitutes, and is constitutive of, their need to pass as civilian. In conclusion, we argue that a key implication of their passing as civilian is to neutralize debate of the legitimacy–or otherwise–of the armed forces as an institution tasked with violence on behalf of the state.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages47
JournalCritical Military Studies
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jan 2019


  • civilian perception
  • militarization
  • Military reservists
  • stigma


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