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Conscription, Family, and the Modern State
A Comparative Study of France and the United States


  • Author: Dorit Geva, Central European University, Budapest
  • Date Published: November 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107024984

£ 72.00

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About the Authors
  • The development of modern military conscription systems is usually seen as a response to countries' security needs, and as reflection of national political ideologies like civic republicanism or democratic egalitarianism. This study of conscription politics in France and the United States in the first half of the twentieth century challenges such common sense interpretations. Instead, it shows how despite institutional and ideological differences, both countries implemented conscription systems shaped by political and military leaders' concerns about how taking ordinary family men for military service would affect men's presumed positions as heads of families, especially as breadwinners and figures of paternal authority. The first of its kind, this carefully researched book combines an ambitious range of scholarly traditions and offers an original comparison of how protection of men's household authority affected one of the paradigmatic institutions of modern states.

    • The first comparative study of conscription and family in the US and France
    • Offers useful insights to political scientists, historians, and sociologists interested in gender and the state
    • Provides readers with an accessible writing style
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Military conscription is a charged issue that dramatically brings to the fore the complex understandings of rights and responsibilities that make up modern citizenship. In this important study Dorit Geva compares conscription - and claims for exemption from it - in two paradigmatic modern nations, France and the United States. Sharing revolutionary traditions, the two countries arrived at different systems of conscription, but through two world wars struggled over similar core ideas about what it means to be a citizen, to be male, and to have family as well as national obligations. The study casts light not only on the gendered role of military service in citizenship but on core ideas about fairness, obligation, and sacrifice.' Craig Calhoun, Director, London School of Economics and Political Science

    'Soldiering and fathering - the 'two sides of masculine citizenship' in the modern state - are at odds. If men soldier, they aren't around to support - and rule - their families. If they father, they are less available to fight. How modernizing states in France and the United States negotiated these tensions is the subject of this fascinating book, which analyzes the rise and decline of family-based exemptions to military conscription as well as women's rights in family law. By showing how citizenship is gendered for men as well as women, Geva breathes fresh air into the study of gender and the state.' Mala Htun, University of New Mexico

    'Dorit Geva's penetrating new study, Conscription, Family and the Modern State: A Comparative Study of France and the United States, makes clear the enduring significance of military conscription for understanding social and political life today. A work of painstaking historical sociology, Geva's book effectively relates the convoluted regulatory policy of conscription in France and the United States, persuasively arguing that seemingly arcane conscription rules carry profound and long lasting social and political significance. In her book, historical sociologists, political scientists, and scholars of gender and family alike will find much of value for their own fields of research and indeed may find fertile new ways to connect across fields.' Thomas Crosbie, American Journal of Sociology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107024984
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Conscription, Familial Authority, and State Modernity in Modern France:
    1. Nationalized coercion, familial authority, and the père de famille in nineteenth-century France
    2. Conscription, pronatalism, and decline of familial sovereignty in the early Third Republic
    3. The famille nombreuse versus the security state in interwar France
    Part II. The Draft, Familial Authority, and State Modernity in the United States:
    4. Breadwinning, selective service, and the First World War draft
    5. The father draft crisis and the Second World War
    6. Conclusion: familial authority and state modernity past and present.

  • Author

    Dorit Geva, Central European University, Budapest
    Dorit Geva is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University. She received a PhD in sociology at New York University. Geva was the Vincent Wright Fellow in Comparative Politics at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (2006–7) and spent four years as a Harper Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago (2007–11) teaching social theory in the College Core. Her work has been published in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State, and Society; The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; and Armed Forces and Society. She is a member of the American Sociological Association, the Council for European Studies, the American Political Science Association, ATGENDER (the European Association for Gender Research, Education and Documentation) and the Social Science History Association. Funding for the research in this book was provided by the Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation and Research Fellowship, a US National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant and the US Department of Education's Foreign Languages and Area Studies fellowship.

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