Conceptualizing the Spectrum of the Bereavement Discourse

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This article presents the spectrum of the bereavement discourse, namely, how various social groups interpret the loss of their children’s lives or the potential risk to their lives posed by their military service and translate it into public discourse, as a spectrum of attitudes. It is argued that this spectrum ranges from subversive to submissive approaches. Furthermore, within the confines of the declining casualty tolerance, two variables cumulatively determine the actors’ choice of discourse: the level of enforcement of recruitment, ranging from conscription to voluntary recruitment, and the social position of the group to which the agents belong. Given that conscription brings powerful, high-status groups into the ranks who may be unwilling to make sacrifices for war, subversive responses are more likely to occur in conscript militaries than in volunteer forces and vice versa. This article maps this spectrum and hypothesizes about its determinants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.


  • bereavement discourse
  • casualty sensitivity
  • collective action


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