Conscription Family, and the Modern State: A Comparative Study of France and the United States (Cambridge University Press, August 2013).

Although the development of military conscription systems is usually seen as a response to countries’ security needs, and as reflection of national political ideologies like civic-republicanism, my study of conscription politics in France and the United States challenges such interpretations. On the basis of original archival research, and taking into account the major institutional and ideological differences of the two cases, the book shows the following: both countries implemented conscription systems shaped by concerns that military service would jeopardize men’s presumed positions as heads of families.  They worried that conscripting ordinary family men for military service would affect their roles as breadwinners and figures of paternal authority.  By tracing the institutionalization of widespread exemptions to husbands and fathers, the book argues that modern states acceded to paternal authority in institutionalizing conscription, so that men’s familial authority persisted as a source of competition to state authority.  The book thus combines extensive archival research with diverse historiographical sources, feminist scholarship on modern politics and the state, and neo-Weberian work on the development of modern states.  It concludes by considering the extent to which familial authority continues to compete with contemporary state power.  

See a short interview about it here, featured on the Cambridge University Press blog fifteeneightyfour.

My three-part post on the American Sociological Association’s Section on Comparative and Historical Sociology blog sums up why I think the US draft system is a bad system (see the first, second, and third posts on the draft system's inherent inequalities).

Table of contents

Book excerpt

Related Articles:

2015      "Selective Service, the Gender-Ordered Family, and the Rational Informality of the     American State." American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 121, 1 (July): 171-204.

2015      "Dependency as a Keyword of the American Draft System and Persistence of Male-Only Registration." Polity, Vol. 47 (Spring): 199-165.

2014    “Of Bellicists and Feminists: French Conscription, Total War, and the Gender Contradictions of the State.” Politics and Society, Vol. 42, 2:135-165, June 2014. 

               (See article draft here).

2011    “Where the State Feared to Tread: Conscription and Local Patriarchalism in Modern France.” In The Power of Kinship: Patrimonial States in Global Perspective, edited by Julia Adams and Mounira Charrad.  The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 636, 1: 111-128, July 2011.

2011    “Different and Unequal?: Breadwinning, Dependency Deferments, and the Gendered Origins of the United States Selective Service System.” Armed Forces & Society. 37: 598-618, October 2011.

2009    "Capifamiglia o coscritti? Origini di genere della coscrizione militare negli Stati Uniti durante la prima guerra mondiale." ("Fathers or Soldiers?: The Gendered Origins of Conscription in First World War United States.") Contemporanea: rivista de storia dell'800 e del '900, 2009, gennaio: 29-52.