At Work and At War: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Combat Job Descriptions on




Graham, James

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Since the end of conscription in the early 1970s, the US Army has needed to convince potential recruits to consider enlistment, and with the advent of the Internet, this discourse gained range and persistence like never before. These benefits have been put to effective use in supporting the recent occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the personnel strains of which have made recruiting discourse more important than ever. The Army has historically been subject to criticism for its recruiting practices, which even in peacetime have drawn fire from media, scholarly and advertising industry sources for the tendency to be one-sided at best and outright deceptive at worst. Existing scholarship, however, has focused on previous or historical forms of this discourse, and no research has yet focused on the unique form this discourse takes today. This study examines how the service currently represents combat jobs to potential recruits. I conduct a critical discourse analysis of the combat job descriptions on the Army‘s recruiting website to identify the means by which the Army‘s recruiting discourse constructs the modern combat soldier‘s work. In conclusion, I show how this discourse obscures the less-attractive aspects of the combat soldier‘s work, such as physical, moral and psychological hazards while foregrounding other, more attractive potential aspects of service, such as technology skills and training. These discursive strategies have social and cognitive effects that constitute a unique type of power imbalance—manipulation—in that it seeks to convince the audience to take action that is decidedly against their own interests and in the interests of the Army.



Military, Army, Recruiting, Manipulation, Rhetoric, Euphemism