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What Is Military Sociology?

By Steven Symes
Updated May 23, 2024
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Military sociology involves the study of a nation’s military as a social group of individuals, as well as looking at the military at the organizational level. Those who study the subject do not limit their view to only to members of a military, but look also at the military’s interactions with people in other organizations, as well as with the surrounding society. Like other branches of sociology, those who study military sociology make use of established sociological theories and concepts to draw conclusions about the social interactions inside and surrounding a military organization.

Different aspects of social class and interaction might be explored under the umbrella of military sociology. A sociologist might look at issues such as how women are treated in a military versus men, the incorporation of racial minorities in a military and whether different sexual orientations are accepted in the group. Religion also figures into the sociologist’s studies, especially in militaries where members come from a variety of religious backgrounds.

The impact of military structure and culture on the family unit in a society is also a topic of study in military sociology. A sociologist might look at how different policies, such as whether members of the military can live with their family while serving in various capacities, and the effects of familial relationships on the individual members of the military. Another topic of study includes how the families of military members cope with the challenges of military life, including if any formal or informal support groups are formed by the families.

A military must interact with the society that surrounds it, and military sociology includes the study of how these interactions take place. A sociologist might study a military unit that has been stationed within its society of origin, comparing it with a similar unit that is stationed in a foreign land where it is surrounded by people from a different culture. Noting how the members of the military interact with different societies, and how members of those societies interact with the military, helps provide additional insight into differences between societies.

Studying military sociology can help sociologists draw several conclusions, not only about the military but also about the society the military exists within. A sociologist might look at both the similarities and differences between the members of the military and the surrounding society, gaining a greater understanding of both groups. By identifying the similarities between the two groups, a sociologist might use a military unit as a smaller group that is representative of the larger society, making studying certain societal aspects a more manageable task.

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