Meaningfulness and Coherence? Experiences Among Young Soldiers in the Swedish Armed Forces

Keywords: Health, Working Environment & Wellbeing, Identity, Meaning & Culture, Labor Market Institutions & Social Partners, Organization & Management


The twofold aim of the present study was to try to understand why young recruits to the Swedish Armed Forces chose a military career rather than a civilian one, and how their expectations were met when confronted with the realities of life as a soldier or marine. The study material consisted of 57 interviews with 37 young recruits; the interviews were carried out at units representing different branches of the Armed Forces. The interviews were semi-structured, transcribed, and categorized. It was found that the desire to remain employed as a soldier or marine in the Swedish Armed Forces is based on a set of individual and organizational factors: the selection process, the sense of meaningfulness and organizational coherence, the safety offered, and the salutogenic nature of military working life. The recruits are part of a system that offers good work conditions in return for taxing and stressful work assignments.

Author Biographies

Gunnar Gillberg, University of Gothenburg

PhD, Department of Sociology and Work Science. E-mail:

Roland Kadefors, University of Gothenburg

Professor, Department of Sociology and Work Science

Jan Holmer, University of Gothenburg

Professor, Department of Sociology and Work Science

Anders Östebo, University of Gothenburg

Project Manager, Department of Sociology and Work Science


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How to Cite
Gillberg, G., Kadefors, R., Holmer, J., & Östebo, A. (2021). Meaningfulness and Coherence? Experiences Among Young Soldiers in the Swedish Armed Forces. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies.