Strategic Culture and British Grand Strategy 1945-1952

  • Alan Livingston Macmillan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The thesis explores the concept of strategic culture and applies it to British grand strategy between 1945-1952. Strategic culture refers to the beliefs, attitudes and values held by a particular group regarding the use of force, and asserts that these are shaped by the group's distinctive historical experience, geographical setting and political organisation.The thesis first describes the origins of strategic culture, locates it within the strategic studies literature and argues that it should be investigated further. It proceeds to survey the strategic culture literature, showing in detail the uses to which strategic culture has been put, categorising the work done so far, and identifying its strengths and weaknesses and the areas needing refinement. The next stage is a survey of the literature on political culture, a concept with a familial resemblance to strategic culture, with the aim of developing understanding of how strategic culture can be used and studied. In the light of this the strategic culture literature is reassessed and a framework and methodology for the study of strategic culture is proposed. The framework is then used to draw up a profile of the salient aspects of British strategic culture. The beliefs, attitudes and values described are then applied to a case study with a view to determining what conclusions can be drawn about their effect on British strategic policy during the early post-war years. The conclusion summarises the argument, and assesses the utility of the concept of strategic culture. The conclusion also locates strategic culture within the wider intellectual frameworks of security studies, International Politics and the human sciences more generally, suggesting what it might learn from these. Finally it suggests how the study of strategic culture should proceed in the future
Date of Award1996
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJohn Bruford Baylis (Supervisor)

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