The military, war and society : the need for critical sociological engagement

Heinecken, Lindy (2015)

CITATION: Heinecken, L. 2015. The military, war and society : the need for critical sociological engagement. Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, 43(1):1–16, doi:10.5787/43-1-1107.

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Sociology offers a distinctive way of seeing and explaining the social world within which we live, as well as the events and institutions that shape it. Given this, it is surprising that the study of war by sociologists has been largely at the margins of the discipline. This has not always been the case, if one reflects on the work of the founding fathers of sociology – Marx, Weber and Durkheim. While the ‘sociology of war’ still does not feature strongly within the discipline, this article shows that sociology provides a critical lens through which to analyse military and warfare, as well as to show how violent conflict affects society. To illustrate this, reference is made to various leading social theorists and sociologists who inform our current understanding of collective violence and war in this era of globalisation. To end the discussion reference is made to the place of military sociology as a sub-field focusing on the military institution and some of the key texts and issues addressed by sociologists.

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