Conscientious Objections from a Comparative Perspective

Conscientious Objections from a Comparative Perspective

Max Weber famously defined the state as an organization that wields monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within a given territory. The modern practice of conscientious objects poses a direct challenge to the state. Yet, the practice of conscientious objection, and the state’s response to this challenge, vary widely. In order to understand these differences, I examine the struggles of COMs in France during the war in Algeria, in the United States during the war in Vietnam, and in Israel after the first invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

My research show how, despite their similarity in goals, the French, American, and Israeli movements adopted radically different practices and arguments. These differences were related to the citizenship regimes in each state. For example, whereas the Israeli ethnonational citizenship regime excluded cooperation with non-Jews, the French republican citizenship regime allowed activists to collaborate with the Algerian rebels and perceive this cooperation as a civic virtue. The comparative perspective allowed me to advance our understanding of how different political regimes shape the timing, character, and outcome of social struggles. The paper demonstrated how different citizenship regimes shape both activists’ repertoires of contention and the states’ reaction to their challenges.

The paper was published in Mobilization and won the Outstanding Student Paper Award of the Collective Behavior and Social Movement Section of the ASA.

Social Movements and Citizenship: A Comparison of Conscientious Objection Movements in France, the United States, and Israel

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