1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods

    452 Pages
    by Routledge

    452 Pages
    by Routledge

    This new handbook is about the practices of conducting research on military issues. 

    As an edited collection, it brings together an extensive group of authors from a range of disciplinary perspectives whose chapters engage with the conceptual, practical and political questions raised when doing military research.  The book considers a wide range of questions around research about, on and with military organisations, personnel and activities, from diverse starting-points across the social sciences, arts and humanities.

    Each chapter in this volume:

    • Describes the nature of the military research topic under scrutiny and explains what research practices were undertaken and why. 

    • Discusses the author's research activities, addressing the nature of their engagement with their subjects and explaining how the method or approach under scrutiny was distinctive because of the military context or subject of the research. 

    • Reflects on the author’s research experiences, and the specific, often unique, negotiations with the politics and practices of military institutions and military personnel before, during and after their research fieldwork. 

    The book provides a focussed overview of methodological approaches to critical studies of military personnel and institutions, and processes and practices of militarisation and militarism.  In particular, it engages with the growth in qualitative approaches to military research, particularly research carried out on military topics outside military research institutions. The handbook provides the reader with a comprehensive guide to how critical military research is being undertaken by social scientists and humanities scholars today, and sets out suggestions for future approaches to military research. 

    This book will be of much interest to students of military studies, war and conflict studies, and research methods in general.


    1. An Introduction to Military Research Methods, Matthew F. Rech, K. Neil Jenkings, Alison J. Williams & Rachel Woodward

    2. SECTION 1: Texts

    3. Reflections on Research in Military Archives, Matthew Farish

    4. From Declassified Documents to Redacted Files: Tracing Military Compensation, Emily Gilbert

    5. Biography and the military archive, Isla Forsyth

    6. Analysing Newspapers: Considering the use of print media sources in military research, K. Neil Jenkings & Daniel Bos

    7. The uses of military memoirs in military research, Rachel Woodward & K. Neil Jenkings

    8. A Military Definition of Reality: Researching Literature and Militarization, John Beck

    9. Archaeological Approaches to the Study of Recent Warfare, John Schofield & Wayne Cocroft

    10. SECTION 2: Interactions

    11. Comparing Militaries: The Challenges of Datasets and Process-Tracing, Jocelyn Mawdsley

    12. Conducting ‘Community Orientated’ Military Research, Ross McGarry

    13. Ethnography in Conflict Zones: The Perils of Researching Private Security Contractors, Amanda Chisholm

    14. Researching Proscribed Armed Groups: Interviewing Loyalist and Republican Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, Neil Ferguson

    15. Psychoanalytically-informed Reflexive Research with Service Spouses, Sue Jervis

    16. Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis and the Study of Action-in-Interaction in Military Settings, Christopher Elsey, Michael Mair, Paul V. Smith, Patrick G. Watson

    17. Researching Normativity and Non-Normativity in Military Organizations, Aaron Belkin

    18. SECTION 3: Experiences

    19. The Aesthetic of Being in the Field: Participant Observation with Infantry, John Hockey

    20. Ethnography and the Embodied Life of War-making, Ken MacLeish

    21. Biting the Bullet: my time with the British Army, Vron Ware

    22. Researching Military Men, Stephen Atherton

    23. Putting ‘Insider-ness’ to Work: Researching Identity Narratives of Career Soldiers about to Leave the Army, David Walker

    24. Researching at military airshows: a dialogue about ethnography and autoethnography, Matthew F. Rech & Alison J. Williams

    25. Perceptions of past conflict: researching modern understandings of historic battlefields, Justin Sikora

    26. SECTION 4 - Senses

    27. Researching the visual and material cultures of war and conflict, Jane Tynan

    28. Studying Military Image Banks: A Social Semiotic Approach, Ian Roderick

    29. Critical methodologies for researching military-themed videogames, Daniel Bos


    Alison J. Williams is Senior Lecturer in Political Geography in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University, UK. She is co-editor of From Above: war, violence and verticality (2013) and co-author of The Value of the University Armed Service Units (2015).

    K. Neil Jenkings is Senior Research Associate in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University, UK. He is the author/editor of numerous titles, including most recently The Value of the University Armed Service Units (co-author, 2015) .

    Matthew F. Rech is Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental sciences at Plymouth University, UK. His research engages with everyday militarism and popular culture, particularly in the British context.

    Rachel Woodward is Professor of Human Geography in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University, UK. She is the author of Military Geographies (2004) and co-author of Sexing the Soldier (Routledge, 2007).

    ‘In the face of increasing conflict and growing security and defence threats, social scientists today are increasingly interested in the armed forces. Drawing together leading scholars in the field, this volume dissects the distinctive methodological challenges which attend military research. It will be required reading for any scholar interested in researching the armed forces.’-- Anthony King, Warwick University, UK