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Domestic Abuse and the Public/Private Divide in the British Military

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Publication details

JournalGender, Place and Culture
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Jan 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 22 Apr 2015
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)912-925
Early online date22/04/15
Original languageEnglish


Full Article Figures & data References Citations Metrics Reprints & Permissions PDF Abstract Divisions between the social spheres of public and private are always fluid, mutually constitutive, and politically and socially formulated. Within the British military, such divisions are further framed through the needs of operational effectiveness. In the pursuit of operational effectiveness the public/private divide functions at times as porous, in large part through the military's provision of services such as housing, welfare and policing to personnel and their families and through the notion of a close-knit military community, and at others as firm, bolstering operational effectiveness through recourse to militarised ideas of the private sphere as the fixed space of hearth, home and femininity which is to be protected by military force. This article employs narratives of domestic abuse as a window through which to analyse enactments of the public/private divide in the British military. The analysis draws upon interview participants' experiences of abuse and of help-seeking to illustrate the complex and fluid ways in which the prioritisation of operational effectiveness frames and delimits the public and the private within the contemporary British military in relation to domestic abuse. The impacts of this upon victim-survivors' help-seeking experiences are discussed.

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