Examining United States military sexual misconduct policy processes

Chelsea Sandra Lee Arnold (Steve Hicks School of Social Work, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Publication date: 8 April 2019



Sexual misconduct (sexual assault and sexual harassment) in the US military is a long-standing problem. The military has implemented many policies and programs to address sexual misconduct in its ranks. The purpose of this paper is to examine how the processes of military sexual misconduct policy and programs have evolved since the 1940s.


Punctuated equilibrium and multiple streams theories were the guiding frameworks for this process analysis of the policies and programs implemented to address military sexual misconduct based on existing literature, news media and press.


Three punctuations are found in military sexual misconduct policy that demonstrate large-scale departures from the periods of equilibrium as the result of either a significant sexual misconduct allegation or new survey findings revealing sexual misconduct prevalence rates. In between these major-issue defining events, incremental policy change has occurred resulting in a period of stasis or return to the status quo requiring correction. Despite returns to stasis, each policy punctuation has built on the prior punctuation, generating new military directives, policies and programs.


Using the lenses of punctuated equilibrium and multiple stream theories, this paper shows how the processes of US military sexual misconduct policies and programs have evolved. The US military and militaries globally can utilize these policy frameworks to help predict future patterns of military sexual misconduct and improve responses to these problems.



Chelsea Sandra Lee Arnold (2019) "Examining United States military sexual misconduct policy processes", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 39 No. 3/4, pp. 235-249

Download as .RIS


: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-07-2018-0114



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.