Controlling the invisible: The essence of effectual control of the modern military

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Militaries work intentionally, visibly and in a politically controlled manner to fulfill their formal assignments as the professional perpetrators of external violence on behalf of the state. It is to this level of military action that the existing literature on the civilian control of the military is confined. However, through the intensive interaction between the military and civilians, the effects of formally controlled military activity go beyond the professional domain and are felt in civilian areas, where, in the long term, military activity helps create structures of unequal power relations. Given its structural dimension, this aspect of the military is not necessarily or immediately visible to the main agents involved; hence, it is divorced from effective civilian control. I conceptualize this neglected type of control as effectual control, distinct from the theoretically well-established notion of operational control. This paper theorizes the essence of effectual control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-124
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Civilian control
  • Demilitarization
  • Militarism
  • Power relations
  • Recruitment policies


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