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Journal Article

War Toys, War Movies, and the Militarization of the United States, 1900-85

Patrick M. Regan
Journal of Peace Research
Vol. 31, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 45-58
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/425582
Page Count: 14

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Topics: Movies, Toys, War, Entertainment, News media, Political attitudes, Mass media, Cold wars, World wars, Socialization
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War Toys, War Movies, and the Militarization of the United States, 1900-85
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Abstract

Various themes in the scholarly literature have argued that an entrenched military is able to maintain its level of influence through the manipulation of perceptions of a hostile environment. While I argue that any alleged manipulation is generally not carried out under the guise of conscious 'security policy', there is some evidence that the perception of an international threat can be and is maintained through the use of the media and entertainment outlets. Using the prevalence of war toys and war movies as indicators of societal symbols, I find that there is a consistent pattern between: (a) the trends of militarization in the USA, (b) public attitudes toward military spending and the expectation of a future war, (c) the popularity of war toys and movies, and (d) press reporting with pro-military themes. The correlation between war movies and societal militarization is 0.83; war toys and militarization 0.74; and press reporting with pro-military themes and militarization 0.44. These patterns appear to hold in the USA over the first 85 years of the 20th century, and not only lend credence to those arguments that suggest that a threat need not be existential for the military to remain 'well prepared', but also point to areas that could help facilitate long-term demilitarization efforts.

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