The Transition from the Military to Civilian Life
: Becoming a Private Security Contractor after Military Service for US and UK Service leavers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis asks the question what role does becoming a private security contractor after military service play in an individual’s transition from the military to civilian life? Situated in sociology, this project is concerned with the role that becoming a private security contractor after military service plays in both the life course of the individual and what effect it has on their military to civilian life transition. The post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan created an unprecedented market for outsourcing security. Most visible of this market during this time were private security contractors. These contractors provided security for individuals, organisations, buildings and convoys – and most recently, ships. Newspapers, magazines and the internet became saturated with pictures of men in sunglasses, draped with guns. This visibility attracted intense attention resulting in the development of national law, standards and codes for the private military and security company industry. Academic inquiry has subsequently run along two broad lines; theoretical implications of outsourcing and the regulation and accountability of the PMSC industry for state sovereignty. As a result, research and examination has taken a ‘top-down’ approach, leaving the individual private security contractor – whose behaviours regulation and accountability seek to influence and regulate – absent from analysis or application. This project aims to fill this gap by addressing US and UK military veterans-turned-private security contractors by way of their transition to civilian life. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, this project examines how becoming a private security contractor after military service effects an individual’s transition to civilian life.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorChristopher Kinsey (Supervisor) & Christopher Dandeker (Supervisor)

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