Negotiating Civilian and Military Lives

  • Military image

    Image: © Crown copyright, used under the  Open Government Licence

    Professor Vince Connelly from the Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health is part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers who have been awarded an ESRC research grant for £300,000 to study UK Armed Forces Reservists and their families.

    In this project Vince will work with colleagues at the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen to seek to better understand how Reservists, their partners/family members and their employers view and experience the intersecting domains of changing military service, civilian work and family life.

    This project has been instigated due to the significant changes currently being made to the organisation of the UK Armed Forces, which are moving towards a 'whole force' structure to best integrate Regular (full time) and Reserve (part time) personnel. By 2020, Reservists will make up at least one in four of the UK Armed Forces military personnel and this will require both Regular and Reserve personnel to achieve new ways of working together.

    This represents a demanding agenda for change and so the ESRC, working with the Ministry of Defence, has commissioned this social science research which will investigate the cultural, social and economic issues that these policy changes may have for Reserve personnel in the context of their military service, their civilian lives and their employment.

    Over the next 30 months a variety of research approaches will be used to investigate these issues including qualitative interviews and questionnaire based surveys with Reservists, their employers and their families in order to enrich and inform policy formulation. The findings should also benefit academic research into the changing landscape of work-life balance, by broadening the arena of 'work' to more than one employer and multiple work contexts.

    Furthermore, by providing a detailed insight into the relationships between the cultural (workplace social and relational support) and structural (policies and practices) aspects of non-standard/flexible work, the research will contribute to calls to move the management of work-life initiatives from the margins to the mainstream.

    This ESRC funded work builds on Vince's recent research on the UK military where he led a study on the workplace cultures of the full and part time members of the Army. The work showed that an understanding of the behavioural drivers behind professional identity was important when considering workplace culture. His work was headlined in the recent UK Government White Paper "Reserves in the Future Force 2020".