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Beyond ‘the soldier and the state’ - the theoretical framework of elite civil-military relations

Rahbek-Clemmensen, Jon (2013) Beyond ‘the soldier and the state’ - the theoretical framework of elite civil-military relations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Though the civil-military relations field has seen a lot of theoretical work in recent years, the field still lacks consistent overarching theories. This dissertation argues that the field requires a new and better theoretical framework. Scholars do not agree about how to define key concepts or how these concepts affect one another. They therefore have a tendency to talk past one another when debating and developing theories of civil-military relations. This dissertation develops a new and more sophisticated theoretical framework for elite civil-military relations. The field’s current theoretical framework was developed by Samuel Huntington in The Soldier and the State. This dissertation uses his framework as a starting point for a larger conceptual analysis, where political and military sociology, international relations, political theory, and military science are used to define the key concepts of civil-military relations. There are two heterogeneous types of civil-military relations that should be studied separately: societal civil-military relations and elite civil-military relations. Political science approaches to civil-military relations, such as this dissertation, typically focus on the latter type. Elite civil-military relations consist of two separate fields of study: civilian control and military effectiveness. Elite civil-military relations function as a system that essentially depends on civilian overall preferences, the mutual trust between soldiers and civilians, the institutional set-up of the state, and the actual skills of civilian and military elites. The dissertation challenges several of the field’s established truths. It shows that one cannot claim that one civilian control policy is superior a priori. Instead, the choice of policy depends on the situational circumstances. It also shows that military professionalism plays a less significant role than commonly thought. It clarifies that civilian control depends on both the internal norms of the officer corps and the external control institutions of the state. Finally, it demonstrates that Samuel Huntington’s work, though clearly impressive for its time, lacks the sophistication needed of a modern social science theory and theoretical framework. It therefore argues that the civil-military relations field should move beyond The Soldier and the State.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Coker, Christopher

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