From rating to officer
: habitus clivé and other struggles associated with promotion in the Royal Navy

  • Sue Diamond

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this research is to investigate the dilemmas of upward social mobility within the Royal Navy. Thirty percent of Royal Navy officers are recruited from the subordinate group known as ratings. There are considerable differences in cultural and behavioural expectations between the officer and rating groups. Officership in the Royal Navy is a high status profession which is aligned with upper middle class outlooks, as compared with the working class orientation of ratings.
    The research is a field analysis of the Navy from a sociological perspective. It investigates officers who served during the period from 1934 to 2012. The research draws on the work a number of theorists particularly Pierre Bourdieu and his concepts of hysteresis and habitus clivé. It investigates the promotion process; how officers negotiate the transition from membership of a subordinate group to that of a superordinate group, and what strategies former ratings utilise to gain promotion and perform the role of naval officer.
    The thesis provides a close investigation of the officer world; comparison is made between the sub fields of the rating mess decks and the officer’s wardroom taking into consideration the difference in expectations of material culture and corporeal embodiments in the two groups. In addition, the implications of promotion on the officer’s family and his relationship with extended family is taken into to account, as promotion can impact on all family members.
    The research findings indicate that majority of the promoted men experienced ontological insecurity, they felt a disconnection between their innate sense of self and what they should be as an officer. As they transitioned from the rating to officer corps they enter a new operational field which is misaligned with their habitus, thus resulting in hysteresis. The individual finds themselves leading a duality of existences – a divided self or what Bourdieu calls habitus clivé. The conclusions indicate that habitus is such a strong influence on our understanding of self it overrides all other influences such as training and economic capital.
    Date of AwardJan 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorLaura Hyman (Supervisor) & Simon Stewart (Supervisor)

    Cite this