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Becoming Soldiers: Army Basic Training and the Negotiation of Identity Open Access

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This dissertation examines the process of Basic Training and how that process works to convert civilian recruits into soldiers. The common conception of Basic Training is that the Army "breaks you down and builds you back up again." However, the nine week process of Basic Training is hardly enough to overcome a minimum of eighteen years of prior life experience. Rather, Basic Training is an introduction to the institution of Army life, through the accumulation of skills and knowledge of how to properly negotiate that institution. Throughout Basic Training, recruits accumulate social capital through their performance of the role of soldier, emulating Drill Sergeants as well as mythical heroes from film and literature who they think best epitomize what a soldier should be. Thus, the definition of soldier is unique to each individual, learned before Basic Training, and performed by each soldier as he continues his career into the regular Army.

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