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The making of militarism: gender, race and organisational cultures in UK national security policymaking

Wright, Hannah (2021) The making of militarism: gender, race and organisational cultures in UK national security policymaking. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Feminist and post/decolonial scholarship has shown that gender and race, as systems of power, produce and are produced by militarism and coloniality. This study offers an empirical contribution to this body of work, examining the relationships among gender, race, militarism and coloniality in UK national security policymaking. Based on semi-structured interviews with 60 national security officials and 182 hours of participant observation, this thesis examines how organisational cultures in UK government departments involved in national security policymaking are gendered and racialised, and how this shapes policy discussions. It asks what racially-coded constructions of masculinity and femininity are invoked by and produced through policy discussions, examining how these appear in the systems of meaning, norms and epistemologies that constitute organisational cultures. Through a discourse analysis of counterterrorism policy discussions, I show how the discursive linking of different security practices to constructions of masculinity and whiteness legitimises liberal militarism. Noting the increasing presence of women and people of colour in national security policymaking, I explore how these officials are experiencing and (partially) remaking organisational cultures. While some women have succeeded in valorising notions of white femininity that challenge certain masculinist norms, I argue that this does not challenge the liberal militarist worldview that is part of the organisational script to which securocrats are expected to adhere. Further, I argue that norms entrenching ignorance concerning the role of national security policies in perpetuating systemic racism make it difficult to challenge militarist and colonial policies. I conclude that while the national security community is increasingly diverse, shifts in organisational cultures have favoured constructions of gender and race that sustain liberal militarism. Antimilitarist and anticolonial feminist efforts to reimagine security governance must go beyond diversity initiatives to dismantle the gendered and racialised norms, systems of meaning and epistemologies that underpin militarism and coloniality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Hannah Wright
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Sets: Departments > Gender Institute
Supervisor: Henry, Marsha

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