"Together we stand." : the experiences of peacekeepers social functioning under the UNIFIL crisis management operation
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Social functioning is considered one of the key areas of analysis when discussing the overall performance of a peacekeeper. Other important areas are physical-, psychological- and ethical performance. This study focuses on the concept of social functioning and considers its different definitions and their meaning. Social functioning has not been widely studied in the area of peacekeeping operations and is therefore an interesting area to study closer. This article aims to show how social functioning appears among Finnish peacekeepers under an international crisis management operation UNIFIL (U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon) in South Lebanon. The purpose of the study is to highlight the wide concept of social functioning and to point out its different aspects when connected to team like interactions and cooperation. The study also seeks to build an overall picture of the social functioning of peacekeepers. The material of the study was gathered in October-November 2014 in Southern Lebanon under a Finnish Defence Forces crisis management and performance measuring operation KRITOKY (Kriisinhallintajoukkojen Toimintakykytutkimus), which aim was to gather data of the overall performance of the FINBAT (Finnish battalion) peacekeepers. The data was collected by a field researcher with the use of thematic interviews amongst nine different peacekeeper units. The data analysis was carried out using a qualitative method. The material was further analysed with the use of a hermeneutic data analysis, which is a mixed method of qualitative data analysis and hermeneutic analysis. A mixed method was chosen in order to both gain a broad understanding of the diverse aspects of social functioning as well as to gain the deepest possible understanding of the interview material. The results suggested that the Finnish peacekeepers had a strong social functioning that helps them to adapt to new surroundings, to manage their daily lives and to carry out different tasks. It also helped in forming new relations and in holding on to them, working with others and valuing teamwork and cooperation. The peacekeepers were open minded, strived to maintain an equal attitude towards others and respected their surroundings. Also clear links between social functioning and team like interactions, similar to those in sports teams, were found. This was due to the team formation of peacekeepers. ...
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