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FrontlineCombat and Cohesion in Twenty-First Century$
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Anthony King

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719663

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719663.001.0001

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Hierarchy, Status, and Combat Motivation in the French Foreign Legion

Hierarchy, Status, and Combat Motivation in the French Foreign Legion

(p.216) 10 Hierarchy, Status, and Combat Motivation in the French Foreign Legion

Mikaela Sundberg

Oxford University Press

The French Foreign Legion is an elite force within the regular French army and it represents an interesting sociological case study of how an organization might enjoin cohesion when wider cultural bonds are absent. This chapter draws on organizational sociology to discuss this issue in relation to power in the Legion as organization and institution respectively. Based on ethnographic material, the chapter argues that the Legion is one of the most rigid and authoritarian Western military organizations and that the sanctity of the order is central to its culture. The recognition of status qualifies and moderates the extreme hierarchy, yet the latitude for flexibility is very narrow. In conclusion, the emphasis on unthinking obedience has some organizational advantages for the Legion, at the same time this dedication to orders has also potentially rendered it too rigid. This may be a disadvantage in an era of complex hybrid operations.

Keywords:   French Army, Foreign Legion, organization, hierarchy, obedience

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