Reserve Forces and the Privatisation of the Military by the Nation-State

K. Neil Jenkings*, Antonia Dawes, Timothy Edmunds, Paul Higate, Woodward Rachel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

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This chapter addresses the sociological issue of the privatization of security and state violence by reappraising our understanding of the apparently non-privatized UK state armed forces. Like many armed forces the UK military can increasingly be understood through its adoption of post-Fordist policies with their emphasis on privatization at most levels of its organizational structure and practices. Military privatization in the UK has hitherto been understood with reference to the privatization of previously state-owned armaments and military engineering capabilities, and of military land management, which has been on-going in the UK since the 1980’s. Instead we focus on increased forms of military privatization regarding military personnel themselves. This more individualized form of privatization sits within the context of structural changes to the UK’s armed forces, and in particular the expansion of is reserve forces through the Futures Reserves 2020 programme.
The concentration of the UK armed forces, and in particularly the British Army, on core activities and combat roles has required the Reserves to take on Regulars’ previous support and logistical roles and work more closely alongside them. In doing so the Reserves collectively have become professionalized and, as individual, reservists (who usually have civilian jobs) manage within a ‘Just in Time’ (JiT) mode of production alongside their civilian work and family responsibilities.
This chapter suggests that the practical realities of this transformation of the Reserves into, quite literally, a JiT reserve army of labour illustrates the transformations of modern armed forces such that they constitute a continuum of privatization practices which includes private military and security contractors and which defines contemporary military organization. We do this be looking at the reported life-worlds of UK Reservists and frame this in terms of individualization and privatization where, we suggest, they have many similarities with PMSC personnel.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sociology of Privatised Security
EditorsOri Swed, Thomas Crosbie
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783319982229
ISBN (Print)9783319982212
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Defence
  • Army
  • Reserves
  • Military Sociology
  • Civil-Military Relations


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