Flip the Coin – Explaining the Synchronicity of Institution and Occupation Using the Example of the German Bundeswehr

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Martin ELBE, Bundeswehr Center for Military History and Social Sciences, Germany
Nina LEONHARD, Bundeswehr Center for Military History and Social Sciences, Germany
The I/O model, first introduced by Moskos in 1977, has inspired research on the military with regard to its organizational setting as well as and to the attitudes of its personnel until today. Controversy on the I/O thesis enlarged the hitherto prevailing debate on the status of the military as a profession by introducing a dynamic perspective on the soldier’s job and its political, social and cultural framework.

In Germany, the I/O model has mainly been discussed according to the prevailing patterns of interpretation which focus on the normative postulation of democratic civil-military Relations. In this perspective, occupational trends or a de-professionalization of the German armed forces tend(ed) to be interpreted as positive signs of a successful democratization of the military. Irrespective of this particular debate, empirical research on military careers in Germany has shown concurrent developments for all ranks: Since the introduction of a combined military and academic training for officers in the 1970s, German officers possess a double qualification as a military professional and as a professional in an academic area; non-commissioned officers have to pass a vocational training with additional schooling, and warrant officers need a practical master training. Moreover, studies on military identity have revealed heterogeneous professional attitudes and orientations amongst the military personnel, thus displaying institutional and occupational features according to the original I/O model. Finally, taking into account that the majority of soldiers have to leave the military after a certain period the question arises how soldiers manage to develop and adjust professional identities over the years, i.e. during and after their military service.

Against this background we propose to take up the I/O thesis, reassess it in the light of current debates within the sociology of professions, and discuss it with regard to empirical data on recent developments concerning the German Bundeswehr.