The Dynamics of Professional Values in Officership. A study of 300 Years of Officer Performance Evaluation Systems

Vilhelm Stefan Holsting (2021)

In: Roelsgaard Obling, A. and Victor Tillberg, L., 2021. Transformations of the Military Profession and Professionalism in Scandinavia. Copenhagen: Scandinavian Military Studies, pp. 208-235. Open access. DOI:

„In order to examine changing values of officership, I draw on Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot’s work of 2006 on orders of worth, notably pragmatic conceptualisations of justification and the plurality of incommensurable values. The analytical approach to the empirical exploration of values has been widely discussed since Parsons (1983, pp. 27–28) made the argument that values, formed by normative agreements, were “the very heart of the human enterprise… what made social order possible and what made the order potentially resistant to evolution.” Boltanski and Thévenot then described how moral judgements of people and things operate through a repertoire of moral modes or values. Common values must reference an idea of the common good, which has historically proven its worth in practice by becoming institutionalised and a viable part of social life. Moreover, such common values cannot be reduced to one higher universal value. By applying a pluralistic value approach, it is possible to observe the heterogeneous value dynamics in the military profession. Here, this value approach is used as an analytical framework, empirically sensitive across time and capable of observing diverse values both at a societal and a professional level. Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006) framework consists of a number of historical values, or modes of worth.“ (p. 212)

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