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Patch Life: Army Wives Behind the Wire

Newman-Earl, Elizabeth (2020) Patch Life: Army Wives Behind the Wire. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

In 2014, one hundred and eighty-four female civilian women moved overseas with the British Army for a tour lasting three years. Known by the collective ‘Army Wives’ and ‘Dependents,’ these women faced multiple dislocations as they sought to make a life for themselves, bounded by British military jurisdiction in a South-Eastern corner of the European Union. Using a free association qualitative interview methodology, twenty-nine women married to serving soldiers and officers of the British Army were interviewed during a six-month fieldwork period at an overseas British military garrison. In addition to their individual narratives, this thesis draws on participant observation and field diary extracts and, based on a range of sociological and feminist theories, it reveals these women’s negotiation of, and reflections upon, their time as incorporated overseas army wives. Attuned to the wives’ voices, Patch Life, Army Wives Behind the Wire accompanies them as they learn the complex unwritten rules of the overseas garrison, becoming physically and ontologically bounded into the hierarchical and patriarchal system of their husbands’ employer. It explores how women become incorporated and institutionalised, investigating how they negotiate and experience their associated positioning within and parallel to the ranked boundaries of the overseas military garrison. It considers what shapes and governs and influences their incorporation (or not) into their military marriage. This thesis probes how these women (re)create their identity within the socio-spaces of the garrison through the bonds of friendship and community living in a geographically remote location. Lying at the heart of this research is how these civilian women respond to their socially constructed appellation of ‘army wife’, whether they embraced its traditions and expectations or, if in their refutation, they were able to find an alternative sense of self located for three years overseas living a patch life behind the wire.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elizabeth Newman-Earl
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2020 15:23
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2020 15:23
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/26753

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