First Advisor

Joseph F. Jones

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Gay military personnel -- United States, Discrimination in employment -- United States, United States -- Armed Forces -- Minorities, United States -- Armed Forces -- African Americans, United States -- Armed Forces -- Women



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, v, 150 p.)


This thesis explores institutionalized discrimination in the United States Military by examining the rationales given for policies that exclude, or limit the military service of racial minorities, women and homosexuals, and the rationales given for altering such policies. outgroups such as racial minorities, women and homosexuals are presumed to be a threat to the white male heterosexual majority within the military services. The presence of these outgroups in the military has been officially characterized as threatening to small-unit cohesion, and therefore threatening to military readiness. This thesis was first based upon the assumption that the rationales favoring discriminatory policies, and rationales favoring reform, would be expressed in the language of small-group theories of cohesion, that is, cohesion based upon the self-categorization of group members, or the interdependence of group members. However, in the data analysis process, two other rationales emerged: the ideological and the bureaucratic rationales. Data illustrating these four rationales were drawn from a content analysis of articles and other commentary published in the New York Times. Statements were crosstabulated by the stance (exclusionist or reformist) they supported and the rationale (self-categorical, interdependent, ideological or bureaucratic) they employed to justify the stance. This analysis was first done separately for each of the three groups, racial minorities, women and homosexuals, and then the data for each of the three outgroups were compared and contrasted. Findings indicate that despite the military's official characterization of outgroups as a threat to small-unit cohesion, relatively little of the debate was expressed in terms of small-group theories of cohesion-the self-categorization of, or interdependence of group members. The most frequently employed rationales were, in fact, ideological in character. Between the three groups, however, some differences in patterns of rationales and stances emerged. The findings are placed in their historical and political contexts to help explain the results of the analysis, and to illuminate the experience of racial minorities, women and homosexuals in the United States military.


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