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Reproducing the military and heteropatriarchal normal: Army Reserve service as serious leisure

Catignani, Sergio and Basham, Victoria M. ORCID: 2021. Reproducing the military and heteropatriarchal normal: Army Reserve service as serious leisure. Security Dialogue 52 (2) , pp. 99-117. 10.1177/0967010620923969

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The notion that military violence engenders security and that military service is a selfless and necessary act are orthodoxies in political, military and scholarly debate. The UK Reserves’ recent expansion prompts reconsideration of this orthodoxy, particularly as it suggests that reservists serve selflessly. Drawing on fieldwork with British Army reservists and their spouses/partners, we examine how this orthodoxy allows reservists to engage in everyday embodied performances, and occasionally articulations, of the need to serve, to free themselves up from household responsibilities. This supposed necessity of military service necessitates heteropatriarchal divisions of labour, which facilitate participation in military service and the state’s ability to conduct war/war preparations. However, whilst reserve service is represented as sacrificial and necessary it is far more self-serving and is better understood as ‘serious leisure’ (Stebbins, 1982), an activity whose perceived importance engenders deep selffulfilment. By showing that the performances of sacrifice and necessity reservists rely on are selfish, not selfless, we show how militarism is facilitated by such everyday desires. We conclude by reflecting on how exposing reserve service as serious leisure could contribute to problematising the state’s ability to rely on everyday performances and articulations of militarism and heteropatriarchy to prepare for and wage war.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Cardiff Law & Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0967-0106
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 March 2020
Date of Acceptance: 7 February 2020
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 18:41

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