The moral career of soldiers’ identity : A Norwegian case
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionKaspersen, I. S. (2023). The moral career of soldiers’ identity: A Norwegian case. Armed forces and society. doi: 10.1177/0095327X231162019
Military service can require soldiers to act beyond their moral beliefs, something that can impair soldiers’ mental health. However, little is known about the shaping of soldiers’ moral identity within their institutional context. This article explores how the moral identity of 20 experienced Norwegian soldiers is (re-)shaped in the Army. Findings from unstructured interviews suggest that they accept compromising their moral beliefs and give priority to an institutional obligation to follow orders. They present three mediating arguments justifying such a compromise and one effort to reduce the potential burden of carrying out illegal or immoral orders. I argue that these compromises are made possible through a shared belief they are socialized into through interactions in their military context. The study complements our knowledge of socialization processes in the military and identifies two theoretical concepts useful to gain knowledge about the (re-)shaping of soldiers’ moral identity.