Skip to main content

The Janowitz Citizen

28 August 2019
Cognitive edge
The Janowitz Citizen

In previous posts, I introduced two important contributors to military sociological theory: Charles Moskos, who gave us the Institutional/Occupational Thesis which determines whether we are more aligned to the values of the organisation or our own professional interests; and Samuel Huntington, who gave us the Social and Functional Imperatives, which determine whether we are governed by the requirements of the job or the interests of society. Today I introduce the third person in this useful trio: Morris Janowitz.

Morris Janowitz was a contemporary of Huntington and is considered the founder of American military sociology. After the Second World War, in which he served as an intelligence analyst, Janowitz established the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society (IUS), which remains the leading conference in the multidisciplinary field of civil-military relations today. In 1960, Janowitz published his most important book concerning the military organisation, The Professional Soldier, which observed the post war transition of the US armed forces into a professional organisation; and identified the problems of balancing military force with a liberal, democratic society. Unlike Huntington, who saw the key to appropriate civil-military relations as professionalism of the military (in other words, keeping its distance from civil control), Janowitz saw the solution through closer ties between the military and society. This is called Convergence Theory, which essentially describes the way in which the military becomes civilianised and society becomes militarised; in other words, more like each other. The product of this convergence is the ‘citizen-soldier’.

The citizen-soldier model has its roots in the Classical idea of ‘civic virtue’, which is demonstrated by active participation of the citizen in public life—the very essence of a republic. Military service is just one part of that public life, as is participation in elections, voluntary association and paying taxes. Janowitz observed the growing demand for civil rights and proposed that the citizen should balance civil rights with civil responsibilities and even extend those responsibilities beyond national borders to the welfare of humanity. The citizen-soldier is a good example of civic obligation and it is not surprising that it is the traditional model of many armies, including the Australian Army. The historical Australian soldiers were amateurs—temporarily engaged and rapidly trained. However, their tasks were and still are, expeditionary, remote and largely unseen by the citizens they represent. Under the historical model, Australian military operations made a broader contribution to humanity perhaps, but were not the domestic res publica, as Janowitz may have preferred.

Since Vietnam, the Australian professional soldier has gradually moved away from the historical citizen-soldier model and has arguably diverged rather than converged with society. However, the ADF does, in part, represent another of Janowitz’ ideas: the ‘constabulary force’. In an epilogue to The Professional Soldier, Janowitz describes an alternate role for the military as this:

The military establishment becomes a constabulary force when it is continuously prepared to act, committed to the minimum use of force, and seeks viable international relations, rather than victory.

The strategic context is important here. Remember, that in a short time after the conventional Second World War, the spectrum of conflict had exploded out to encompass new United Nations peacekeeping missions at one end and a nuclear arms race at the other. The conventional force was not going to cut it in this new, rapidly changing, technologically complex geopolitical order that was the 1950s. Sound familiar? These are precisely the terms we use to describe the threat environment today. In fact, as Army’s Futures Statement, Accelerated Warfare states, the requirement for

…wide engagement across Defence, whole of government, industry, academia and our international military partners as well as with new and emerging partners

…is exactly why Janowitz set up the IUS in 1960! Because of this political upheaval, and downsized Western armies, roles like the ‘constabulary’ one are back in debate. But how do they relate to force structure? Janowitz imagined a constabulary force as more of a role than a structure. However, last week, we saw the British Army combine both these ideas (role and structure) in a restructure that would assign different roles to the three Divisions of the Field Army. One Division was assigned to War Fighting; one to Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief/International Engagement; and one to Intelligence/Cyber Warfare/Information Operations. This represents a specialist approach to force structure which is the opposite of the way the Australian Army has approached the multi-role combat brigades.

It would appear almost impossible to return to a functional model with the three full-time Australian brigades; there just isn’t enough strength to sustain a rotational operational tempo. But there is latitude to perform the constabulary role and embody the citizen-soldier model—in the 2nd Division which comprises part time military professionals. Specialists are found in civil society. The full-time members of the Army specialise, to a certain point, but only within a longer career as a generalist. We could conclude that the contemporary model is the military organisation comes first, and the specialisation comes second. In the civil sector, the opposite of this is true. Specialist professionals enhance their skills by applying them to different organisations and, as a result, their professional development is more likely to become more focussed throughout their careers, rendering them highly skilled and employable. Full-time military members, on the other hand, are likely to become more and more generalised as their career progresses, to the point where they are perceived to be ‘too generalised’ to compete in the civil sector.

The paradigm commonly attributed to the full-time, permanent members of the ADF is that the part-time Australian ‘citizen-soldiers’—as specialised as they may be—have always taken too long to prepare for war, resulting in several experimental readiness models being tested during the last decade. This does not meet Janowitz’s requirement for the military establishment to be ‘continuously prepared to act’, nor does it guarantee the military will represent current societal values. Perhaps assigning a ‘constabulary’ role or a highly specialised capability such as Intelligence/Cyber Warfare/Information Operations to an augmented 2nd Division would start to realise some of Janowitz’s vision.         


The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

Using the Contribute page you can either submit an article in response to this or register/login to make comments.