Tank Doctrines: a Negotiated Order approach

This article came from an idea I had in the late 1960’s when I wrote a draft paper on “Ideology in Boardgames”. At the time I was very excited by the work being done in the York Deviancy Symposium by people like Stan Cohen, Jock Young, Ian Taylor, Edward Thompson, and many others. Ideology was everywhere. Or to be more accurate we noticed that ideology was everywhere: in the way the climate was presented in Australia House, in board games like military ones issued by Avalon Hill. Television advertisements first appeared in the UK in 1955.

The armed forces are just like any other career, governed by the rules of the current military hierarchy. But how are those rules formed? And what are they based on? We also know that for propaganda purposes officers play down the devastation of warfare. Terms like precision bombing and surgical strike are used to stress the economical use of force, precisely because they de-humanise the effects of war. The phrases are useful in both planning to convince politicians that any war will be easier to “sell” to the public.

1977 “Tank doctrines from the First to the Second World Wars” Australian Journal of Defence Studies (October) Vol.1 No.2 pp.133-48

This was the first of my two articles on military ideology. It was a straight description in a historical context. The journal folded soon after. 1977 was the year that the journal Symbolic Interaction was founded. The second article was published in the European Journal of Sociology in 1983 and I was more open about the influence of symbolic interaction on military matters. Below is the abstract to the first article:

Traces the development of military doctrines concerning the use of tanks from early dreadnought-inspired battleship conceptions of them as gigantic “landships” 100 feet long, weighing a thousand tons and operating in “fleets” to more realistic and competing alternative doctrines. The main ones were as slow and heavily armoured infantry-escort artillery (infantry doctrine), the modernisation of cavalry by replacing horses with fast, lightly armoured tanks (cavalry doctrine), and the “tanks alone” doctrine in which all other arms become secondary and which finally evolved into the blitzkrieg doctrine, based on a mobile strike-force in which tanks were one component, co-operating with motorised infantry and artillery and with air support. The evolution of these different doctrines is traced examining the UK, France, Germany and the US.

In the second article I was more open about the negotiated order of military organisations: http://www2.ibf.uu.se/PERSON/jim/abstract/tank.html. I was also aware that there was a new journal, Symbolic Interaction, from my correspondence with Harvey Farberman (see the post on this earlier in this blog (16 October 2014).

1983 “Professional ideologies and organisational structure: tanks and the military” European Journal of Sociology Vol.24 No. 2 (November), pp.223-40

AbstractAnselm Strauss’ concept of the negotiated order is applied to understanding the different uses of tanks from its development in the First World War to the end of the Second World War. Three major doctrines are examined – the infantry doctrine in which heavy tanks accompanied the infantry as a form of mobile artillery, the cavalry doctrine in which tanks adopted the traditional cavalry role of operating alone and to exploit breakthroughs created by the infantry, and the blitzkrieg doctrine in which tanks combined with infantry, artillery and other mobile units, supported by air power and using surprise to break through the front and engage the enemy rear in battles of encirclement. The power struggles within the officer corps of the US, Britain and Germany illustrate, respectively these different doctrines in application. Some implications of this application of the concept of negotiated order are discussed by way of conclusion.

Wikipedia page on Blitzkrieg provides a useful analysis.

This was a very interesting subject to research. The tank was first invented as a trench-crossing and wire-cutting steel petrol-driven monster, or as the Admiralty described it a Landship. Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911-1915, and it was he who proposed and set up the Admiralty Landships Committee, which among other things examined proposals for huge machines each a hundred feet long, with three forty-foot diameter wheels and weighing a thousand tons.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landships_Committee

 So the initial British response was that of being a Great Sea Power, to envisage tanks as the land equivalent of the Dreadnought.

“This process, then, can be seen to be one of the working out of a ‘negotiated order’ (Strauss et al. 1963 : 165) which is constantly modified through daily practice. Central in this process is the officer corps of the armed force, both at the higher levels of strategy and resource allocation and at the field level of actual operations. The focus, then, for this discussion is the interaction within officer corps, and the resulting army structure which emerges out of this. To illustrate this process the effect of the introduction of a technological innovation—the tank—on the military profession will be considered (for a more detailed analysis see Kemeny 1977). Three officer corps—those of Britain, Germany and the U.S.A.—have been chosen for consideration in the period from the middle of the First World War to the end of the Second World War.” (1983, p. 224)

I include the interactionist literature I used in this article below:

BUCHER, Rue and STRAUSS, Anselm L. ‘Professions in process’ American Journal of Sociology, 66 LXVI (1961), 325-334

CRANE, Diana, ‘Fashion in science : does it exist?’, Social Problems, XVI (1969), 433- 441.

MECHANIC, David, Sources of power of lower participants in complex organizations, Administrative Science Quarterly, VII (1962), 307-324.

MILLS, C. W., Situated actions and vocabularies of motive, American Sociological Review, V (1940), 904-913.

MULKAY, Michael and EDGE, David O., “Cognitive, technical and social factors in the growth of radio astronomy” Social Science Information, XII (1973), 25-61.

SCOTT, Martin E. and LYMAN, Stanford M., ‘Accounts’ American Sociological Review, VII (1968), 701-713.

SCOTT, Robert A., The Making of Blind Men : a study of adult socialization (New York, Russell Sage, 1969).

Scott, Robert A. ‘The Construction of conceptions of stigma by professional experts, in DOUGLAS, Jack D . (ed.), Deviance and Respectability : the social constructions of moral meanings (New York, Basic Books, 1970), pp. 225-290.

SCULL, Andrew T., Mad-doctors and magistrates : English psychiatry’s struggle for professional autonomy in the nineteenth century, European Journal of Sociology, XVII (1976), 279-305.

STRAUSS, Anselm I., SCHATZMAN, Leonard, EHRLICH, Danuta, BUCHER, Rue and SABSHIN, Melvin, ‘The Hospital and its negotiated order’ pp.147-169 in Elliot Friedson (ed.), The Hospital in Modern Society (New York, Free Press, 1963).

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