Marching Upward: The Role of the Military in Social Stratification and Mobility in American Society
Light, Patricia Danette Jr.
MetadataShow full item record
This 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 workforce. 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.
- Doctoral Dissertations