Militarization, or militarisation, is the process by which a society organizes itself for military conflict and violence. It is related to militarism, which is an ideology that reflects the level of militarization of a state. The process of militarization involves many interrelated aspects that encompass all levels of society.
The perceived level of threat, influences what potential for violence the state must achieve to assure itself an acceptable level of security. This threat may involve the:
Militaristic ideas are referred to within civilian contexts. The war on poverty declared by President Johnson, and the war on drugs declared by President Nixon, are rhetorical wars. They are not declared against a concrete, military enemy which can be defeated, but are symbolic of the amount of effort, sacrifice, and dedication which needs to be applied to the issue. They may also be a means of consolidating executive power, because war implies emergency powers for the executive branch which are normally reserved for the legislature.
Militarization has been used as a strategy for boosting a state's economy, by creating jobs and increasing industrial production. This was part of Adolf Hitler's plan to revive the German economy after the devastation it suffered after the First World War.
The military also has a role in defining gender identities. War-movies (ie Rambo) reflect the cultural identities of masculinity with the warrior. (See Gibson, 1994.)
- The role and image of the military within a society is another aspect of militarization. At differing times and places in history, soldiers are alternately viewed as rowdy or respectable, (for example - soldiers viewed as baby killers during the Vietnam war, vs. the support our troops car-magnets during the war on terror. Structural organization is another process of militarization. Before World War II, the United States experienced a post-war reduction of forces after major conflicts, reflecting American suspicion of large standing armies. After World War II, not only was the army maintained, but the National Security Act of 1947 restructured both civilian and military leadership structures, establishing the Department of Defense and the National Security Council. The Act also created permanent intelligence structures (the CIA et al.) within the United States government for the first time, reflecting the civilian government's perception of a need for previously military based intelligence to be incorporated into the structure of the civilian state.
How citizenship is tied to military service. Volunteer, draft, or universal conscription reflect whether or not one must have served to be considered a citizen. Compare historical Prussia, where every male was required to serve, and service was a requirement of citizenship, to post-Vietnam America's all-volunteer army. See also Frevert, 2004, Ch. 1.4, 1.5.
Racial interactions between society and the military:
Eleanor Roosevelt said "civil rights [is] an international question. . . [that] may decide whether Democracy or Communism wins out in the world." (Sherry, 1995, p. 146)
The military also serves as a means of social restructuring. Lower classes could gain status and mobility within the military, at least after levée en masse after the French Revolution. Also, the officer corps became open to the middle class, although it was once reserved only for nobility.
In Britain, becoming a military officer was an expectation for 'second sons' who were to gain no inheritance, the role of officer was assumed to maintained their noble class.
In the United States, military service has been/is advertised as, as means for lower class people to receive training and experience that they would not normally receive, propelling them to a higher position in society.
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Militarization is the general movement of a country to focus its production on war. This includes production of war machines such as tanks and aircraft as well as arms for infantry. There is a focus of the population to produce these goods. An example of this is seen when females during the Second World War would work in factories to produce planes and tanks. Militarism is simply a country that is focusing on increasing their military might through production and concentration of capital resources. This movement can be started in either a country at war already or in a country that is newly entering a conflict. Example of this include the one stated earlier, since the United States entered the Second World War they shifted from supplying Britain to producing their own weapons. When Germany was about to begin their invasion of Europe they started militarization. They broke the Treaty and began to produce weapons. Their focus changed from economic progress to fascism and militarism.