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Military Procurement as Rational Myth: Notes on the Social Construction of Weapons Proliferation

Mark C. Suchman and Dana P. Eyre
Sociological Forum
Vol. 7, No. 1, Special Issue: Needed Sociological Research on Issues of War and Peace (Mar., 1992), pp. 137-161
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/684356
Page Count: 25
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Military Procurement as Rational Myth: Notes on the Social Construction of Weapons Proliferation
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Abstract

This paper outlines four theoretical approaches to the sociology of weapons proliferation: strategic-functional theories, factional theories, geopolitical theories, and institutional theories. Although rarely formulated explicitly, the first three approaches are implicit in the existing literature on proliferation. All three see proliferation as the result of rational decision making, although they differ as to the locus of these decisions, with strategic-functional theories focusing on the nation-state, factional theories on subnational interests, and geopolitical theories on global superpowers. In contrast, the institutional approach disputes the rationality of procurement, arguing instead that weapons purchases are structured and driven by institutionalized normative structures that link advanced weaponry with modernization and sovereignty. The policy implications of this perspective are discussed, and parallels to recent developments in organizational theory are highlighted.

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