Compelling narratives are integral to successful foreign policy, military strategy, and international relations. Yet often narrative is conceived so broadly it can be hard to identify. The formation of strategic narratives is informed by the stories governments think their people tell, rather than those they actually tell. This book examines the stories told by a broad cross-section of British society about their country’s past, present, and future role in war, using in-depth interviews with 67 diverse citizens. It brings to the fore the voices of ordinary people in ways typically absent in public opinion research.
Always at War complements a significant body of quantitative research into British attitudes to war, and presents an alternative case in a field dominated by US public opinion research. Rather than perceiving distinct periods between war and peace, British citizens see their nation as so frequently involved in conflict that they consider the country to be continuously at war. At present, public opinion appears to be a stronger constraint on Western defense policy than ever.