Representations of Contemporary Soldiering in Digital and Visual Cultures
In this British Academy-funded study, Katy Parry (Principal Investigator), Simon Popple (Co-Investigator) and Nancy Thumim (Co-Investigator) examine perceptions of contemporary soldiering in the UK primarily through focus group discussions with serving military personnel, veterans and forces families. It is our contention that mediated representations – whether film, television, websites, museum and gallery displays – offer significant and interconnected spaces through which to explore negotiations of the meanings of military experience in contemporary public culture. Through our qualitative research with the military community we hope to better understand how those most affected by recent conflicts engage with the familiar media portrayals and dominant stereotypes. Our guiding research questions included: How do participants relate media representations to their own experience of military culture? Which media qualities do they enjoy or critique (style, content, theme)? What is the nature of the broader discussions prompted by the media materials we shared?
In March 2015, we held a workshop event where research participants and stakeholders from the diverse military community (including veterans and forces family members) were invited back to discuss the media’s role in currents debates on civil-military relations and militarisation. The project concluded with successful one-day symposium on ‘Media and the Military’ in June 2015, attracting international scholars from politics, geography, history, security studies and literature studies.
We are currently preparing articles from the project and have already published one article on related work (Parry and Thumim, 2015) which will appear in a special issue of Media War and Conflict. Katy Parry and John Corner are currently co-editing a special issue of Media, Culture and Society which will also feature findings from the project, alongside other scholarship on ‘Media and the Military’ (due for publication in early 2017).
Katy Parry and Nancy Thumim (2015) ‘(Extra)ordinary portraits: Self-representation, public culture and the contemporary British soldier’, Media, War and Conflict, online first, DOI: 10.1177/1750635215606866.