Soldiering and the Making of Finnish Manhood: Conscription and Masculinity in Interwar Finland, 1918-1939

TitleSoldiering and the Making of Finnish Manhood: Conscription and Masculinity in Interwar Finland, 1918-1939
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAhlbäck, Anders
Number of Pages331
Date Published2010
UniversityÂbo University
CityÂbo, Finland

This thesis studies military conscription as an arena for the “making of manhood” in peacetime Finnish society, 1918–1939. It examines a range of public images of conscripted soldiering, asking how soldiering was depicted and given gendered meanings in parliamentary debates, war hero myths, texts concerned with the military and civic education of conscripts, as well as in works of fiction and reminiscences about military training as a personal experience. 
Studying conscription with a focus on masculinity, the thesis explores the different cultural images of manliness, soldiering and male citizenship on offer in Finnish society. It investigates how political parties, officers, educators, journalists, writers and “ordinary” conscripts used and developed, embraced or rejected these notions, according to their political purposes or personal needs. 

The study represents a combination of new military history and the historical study of men and masculinities. It approaches masculinity as a contested and highly political form of social and cultural knowledge that is actively and selectively used by historic actors. Instead of trying to identify a dominant or “hegemonic” form of masculinity within a pre-determined theoretical structure, this study examines how the meanings ascribed to manhood varied according to class, age, political ideology and social situation.

(Adapted from Âbo Akademi University Description)

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