Type of Document Dissertation Author Light, Patricia Danette Jr. Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-71198-13614 Title Marching Upward: The Role of the Military in Social Stratification and Mobility in American Society Degree PhD Department Sociology Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Bailey, Carol A. de Wolf, Peggy L. Edwards, John N. Fuhrman, Ellsworth R. Yin, Ray Bryant, Clifton D. Committee Chair Keywords
- military sociology
- social stratification
- social mobility
- race and ethnicity
Date of Defense 1998-05-01 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis study addresses the extent to which participation in the military affects
subsequent status attainment and mobility in America. The purpose of this research
was to conduct a comprehensive examination of existing empirical research resulting in
a synthesis of findings and establishing a concise summary of the state of the literature
on this topic.
The study is limited to the examination of existing research on male veterans in
the years between 1950 and the present. Findings from sixty-four articles and seven
books are presented. The background characteristics of servicemen, the promotion
and retention of servicemen, and the post-service earnings and education of
servicemen, in the era of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the All-Volunteer Force are
discussed. When possible, comparisons are made between servicemen and their
civilian counterparts, as well as between Anglos and African Americans.
Findings indicate that men serving in the military prior to Vietnam were from
somewhat higher socio-economic and educational backgrounds. The background
characteristics of Anglo veterans of Vietnam and the AVF were homogenous to their
civilian counterparts. Black veterans of the period from the war in Vietnam through the
present have slightly higher levels of education and income prior to service as
compared to their civilian counterparts.
Research on promotion, retention, and military occupational assignments
demonstrate that blacks are more likely to enlist and re-enlist than are Anglos.
Promotions are currently achieved at approximately the same rate regardless of race.
However, throughout the period examined, blacks are more likely to be trained in
military occupational specialties considered to be less transferable to the civilian
Findings on post-service attainment are limited to the examination of income,
earnings, and education. Military service resulted in higher levels of income, earnings,
and education for all veterans serving since 1950, with the notable exception of Anglo
Vietnam veterans. In other words, as compared to their civilian counterparts, veterans
had significantly higher incomes, earnings, and educational levels post-service.
Explanations for the association between military service and social mobility, including
fluctuations in enlistment standards and educational benefits during the period under
investigation, are presented.
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