An anthropological exploration of discipline and ritual practices among the Royal Marines

  • Mark Anthony Burchell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Despite the ever-growing number of publications on Military matters, in-depth studies of its unique cultural practices are still scarce due to their well-kept high perimeter fences. The author, a former Royal Marine, was able to return to the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone as an anthropologist to carry out participant observation, following an intake of recruits throughout their gruelling year-long training programme. Focus is on enculturation of the Marine recruits during their training, giving particular attention on the intricate mechanisms that transform them from ordinary civilian men into members of what is often regarded as the world's finest elite Commando unit. The ethnography presented in this thesis will provide a key to understanding the complex processes of Military enculturation through a close look at the relationships between disciplinary and punishment practices; violence and masculinity; narratives and personhood; and will explore how these issues become known to the recruits through their practical application of body to physical labour. This thesis represents an attempt to present the so far unexplored social experience of Royal Marines training culture.
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Shankland (Supervisor)

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