Everything’s Better In the Military?

By Jonathan Adams Jun 16, 2008

A new study by Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts, compares race relations in the military and those in civilian society, and her results suggest that people of color are much more satisfied with their lives in the military. Does this sound like the beginning of a "Be All You Can Be" ad yet?

In civilian society African-Americans generally express higher dissatisfaction with their jobs than their white counterparts and are less committed. But Lundquist’s study of 30,000 active-duty personnel found that those norms are largely flipped in the military. She looked at five measurements of career satisfaction, including overall quality of life and opportunities for advancement, and found African-American women to be the most positive and satisfied with their jobs, followed by African-American men, Latinas, Latinos and white women. White men are the least satisfied with their military careers, rating their satisfaction and overall happiness with their jobs much lower. Newsweek.

Lundquist , in explaining the implications of her research, thinks folks of color escaping the evils of civilian life by joining the military even if that means death.

This new research not only speaks to race relations in the military; Lundquist thinks it speaks to the barriers that women and minorities continue to face in the civilian working world. "The military is not an easy place to work. Even aside from the risk of death, you don’t have a whole lot of autonomy," says Lundquist. "If certain groups are showing higher satisfaction in that environment than in civil society, it really makes the case for how disadvantaged they are in the civilian world. They have to go to the military to find more equality."