The article deals with the phenomenon of 'didivshchyna', that is with the informal rules of the soldiers' life in the Ukraine whose genesis goes back to the times of the tsarist army. Today, it is treated as pathology and is controlled by the officer cadre. The aim of this article is to describe the system of 'didivshchyna', to analyze it and eventually to explain its understanding (reception) in the soldier milieu as well as in the civilian environment. The most important precondition for the formation of 'didivshchyna' , a parallel world behind the barrack walls, is the soldiers isolation from the outside world. This parallel world is characterized by such features as hierarchy, own legal system and sanction apparatus, specific language, own calendar and finally particular military knowledge and even own art. At the same time, most of soldiers accept 'didivshchyna' as familiar and as their own reality in contrast to the forced reality of the official military organization. The new conscripts perceive the regular army as kind of chaos, in which they have to create their own order that is own 'culture'. This informal social order is based on a strict hierarchy. Among many 'classifications' of conscripts the most well-known is: 'zapakh' (smell); 'dukh' (ghost); 'cherep' (skull), 'did' (old man/grandfather) - from which the name of the phenomenon was created, and - 'dembel' (from the word demobilization). Every group has its own rights and responsibilities which must be obeyed strictly and which keeping is supervised by the whole community. The service is subdivided into single phases by means of rituals, to which inseparable elements such as alcohol and physical violence belong. The specific soldier language as well as the unofficial soldier calendar, to which the entire military service, organizing of 'ritual feasts' and the ceremonial adding up of the remaining military service time comply, show the ritual form. The myth forming about the passed military service has a function of adaptation and consists of three phases: (1) - creation of the soldier reality; (2) - establishment of one's own position in the above mentioned reality; (3) - establishment of one's own position in the civil society, on the basis of the position in the forces. Additionally it serves the establishment of one's own civilian identity as an adult and mature person, in harmony with the initiation character of the military service. 'Didivshchyna' can be understood as a form of rebellion against the forced official military service, which is identified with the officer cadre and with rules and regulations. Independently from the moral assessment of this phenomenon in the society, the 'didivshchyna' still plays a supreme role in relation to the official military structures.
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