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Conscripted Volunteering: An Ethnographic Study of Community Engagement Schemes in the Israeli Military

Conscripted Volunteering: An Ethnographic Study of Community Engagement Schemes in the Israeli Military


Militaries increasingly engage their soldiers in activities framed as ‘community engagement’ or ‘volunteering’, ranging from facilitating activities for children to delivering food to the needy. ‘Conscripted volunteering’, as I term this phenomenon, is part of a broader ‘moralization’ of contemporary society that glorifies ‘volunteering’ as a prominent route for ethical conduct. Under neoliberalism, ‘volunteering’ becomes an object of intensified political interest and promotion. While ‘volunteering’ that is facilitated by militaries can be considered as a means to enhance their public legitimacy, inspired by corporate techniques of reputation management, I propose to analyse it also as a governmentality technique that reinforces the ideological and ethical adherence of soldiers. The proposed research project explores the intensive implementation of ‘conscripted volunteering’ in the Israeli military, a military which is considered a paradigmatic case in studies of armed forces.

The project provides a theoretically-informed, in-depth ethnographic account of a phenomenon that has so far been neglected in the literature. It examines why and how ‘conscripted volunteering’ emerged and became widespread in the Israeli military, how these volunteering schemes are assembled, organised and managed, and how this new type of soldiers’ engagement affects their notions of morality, citizenship and subjecthood. These questions are addressed through in-depth interviews, participant observations and content analysis.

The project uniquely converges the thematic areas of military studies and volunteering research; it brings together the candidate’s expertise in studying the rise of ‘volunteering’ with the host institute’s specialization in anthropology of military and security. The project contributes to the increasing interest in military-civic entanglements, and to the critical analysis of the emergence of ‘volunteering’, and of its causes, meanings and implications.
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Spui 21
1012wx Amsterdam


Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 165 598,80

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 751924


Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 August 2017

  • End date

    31 July 2019

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 165 598,80

  • EU contribution

    € 165 598,80

Coordinated by: