Convertible sacrifice: A conceptual proposition

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This article follows the approach, drawn from the bellicose school of state formation, according to which the state mobilizes the war sacrifice of its citizenry in return for rewards that different groups reap from military service. However, a significant gap in this school can be identified: Scholars have not theorized the variations in the value of the rewards that the state provides in exchange for war sacrifices, nor the factors determining those variations. To this end, this article further develops the concept of convertibility-the ability of groups to convert the power they acquire from military service into valuable social rewards in the civilian sphere. It is argued that variations in the value of rewards are best determined by their convertibility, which is highly affected by the level of militarization in a society through five variables: level of threat, military participation ratio, republicanism, convergence between military and civilian organizations, and identity building.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-463
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Convertibility
  • Militarization
  • Republican exchange
  • State formation
  • Symbolic rewards


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