Jarhead and Deskilling in the Military: Potential Implications for the Australian Labour Market
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This paper uses a popular culture medium to examine the notion of deskilling in one particular sector, viz., the military. Jarhead was released to cinemas in 2005 and follows the experiences of United States Marine, Anthony Swofford, in the first Gulf War of the early 1990s. We witness the central character undergo intensive training to become one of the Marine's highly skilled employees - a sniper. We observe Swofford and his colleagues' increasing frustrations with their inability to 'ply their trade'. While the sniper was a highly skilled, indeed elite, fighter in earlier conflicts, technological developments have left this skilled artisan as a bystander in modern set-piece warfare. This paper adds to our understanding of the tensions between traditional skilled occupations and technological development, in addition to the tensions between military skills and non-military employment. Using the Hollywood movie Jarhead as a lens, the audience witnesses the manner in which technology leads to a divergence in workplace skills. Finally, this paper considers the implications for the Australian labour market.