Utrinque Paratus: A Case Study of Discourse and Identity in The British Parachute Regiment
Andrew D. Brown
This paper analyzes how participants' preferred conceptions of their selves are disciplined by the organizationally-based discursive and material resources on which they draw. Our paper is principally an in-depth case study of the subjectivities of men who were serving, or who had served, in an elite military unit - the Britis Parachute Regiment. In examining issues of agency and control in identity matters we employ literature on subjectivity, the discursive construction of identity, the self as a project, and identity regulation. There is a dearth of research in management studies on military institutions, and one important element of the research contribution of this paper is to explore issues of subjectivity and identity regulation in these underexplored work organizations. Two aspects of our case are particularly highlighted. First, we argue that soldiers' evolving self-conceptions were disciplined not (just) by anxieties but by understandings of themselves as professionally tough, and their continuous aspiration to be more authentic paratroopers. Second, rather than focus on how those who were hierarchically privileged sought to manipulate discursive resources for their own ends, we examine a range of paratroopers, to illustrate how all (officers and enlisted men) were subject to, and constituted by, the material and discursive practices of the Regiment.
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