The Dynamics of Skills – an Epistemological Study of Military Professionalism in Situations When Rules Clash

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Lotta VICTOR TILLBERG, Royal Institute of Technology, Swedish Centre for Studies of Armed Forces and Society, Stockholm, Sweden
Military personnel have to be prepared to act in situations over which they do not have full control. They must be able to make decisions in uncertain and contradictory circumstances. The ability to adequately interpret phenomena in a given situation includes a variety of inarticulate knowledge. These often experience-based forms of knowledge are an important but rarely noticed aspect of military professionalism.

The article epistemologically investigates the role of experience-based knowledge in military practice based on narratives from Swedish soldiers' experiences from situations when rules clash. The empirical material on which the study is based shows that transgressing rules is occasionally a prerequisite for military operations. The article discusses the risk of deprofessionalization as a result of a unilateral use of evaluation methods (e.g. new public management) that focus mainly on measurable forms of knowledge.