Conceptualizing The Bereavement Hierarchy

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: Booth 50
Oral Presentation
Yagil LEVY , Open University in Israel, Raanana, Israel
Yagil Levy
The Open University in Israel

Conceptualizing the Bereavement Hierarchy
Abstract submitted to the RC01 Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution. Session: Death in the Military: Towards a New Paradigm?

Scholars of the syndrome of casualty sensitivity exclusively analyze public opinion and its impact on policies. A few studies argued that the mode of recruitment largely determines the ability of collective actors to leverage political factors (such as the extent to which the war is portrayed as successfully attaining its original goals) to challenge the dominant discourse and influence the war’s policy. However, missing is an analysis of the bereavement discourse by which various social groups interpret the loss of their children’s lives or the potential risk posed by their military service. The tone of this discourse affects the likelihood of antiwar protest. While manpower policies create a hierarchy of risk by exposing different groups to different levels of risk, this hierarchy is also reflected within the bereavement hierarchy.
It is argued that the extent to which a group will develop a subversive discourse of bereavement that can be translated into antiwar protest is highly correlated with several variables: (1) the group's social status and its reliance on the military as a mobility track; (2) the group's ideological stance; (3) the legitimacy to protest as derived from the character of manpower policies- market-regulated vs. state-sanctioned death. In general, the lower the position of the group in the social hierarchy, the greater its tolerance for military death, and vice versa. Different levels of discourse can be hierarchically clustered, from subversive to submissive discourse.
Thus, mapping the bereavement hierarchy may improve our understanding of how the social composition of the armed forces affects the likelihood of antiwar protest.