I was surprised and humbled to receive the Charles H. Coates Commemorative Award, recognizing contributions to military sociology. When I came to Maryland, I viewed myself as a political sociologist interested in certain aspects of military life. Now, I'm not so sure.
On one hand, I've gotten to know many of the people who identify as military sociologists and have developed a lot of admiration for how they challenge and enrich the self-understanding of militaries. My papers on transgender policy and sexual assault are intended to share in that spirit.
On the other hand, I'm increasingly convinced that my subconscious has a plan of its own, and that it doesn't really fit in any tradition. I seem to be constantly searching for ways to show how military sociology (as an intellectual tradition and as a set of issues in the world) can be fit within a political sociology or political science approach.
The take-away is that the challenge I see facing military sociology today is to find productive new ways to connect it to other fields, but particularly fields that unlock the sometimes-ignored, sometimes-hidden political processes that infuse the military realm.
PS The award is named for former Maryland faculty Charles Coates, co-author with Roland Pellegrin of the first textbook on military sociology -- which I found very helpful back during my prospectus-writing days.