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The latest developments of conscription in Western Europe are framed in the long-term process of the decline of the mass army. Ten measures of that decline are reviewed to conclude that the social forces, namely democratic reason, have been much more influential in the decision-making process of this policy than is commonly admitted. Although on the short-term, with the exceptions of Spain and Italy, it is reason of state that better accounts for the end of conscription, on the long-term this is partly regarded as a direct or indirect outcome of social mobilisation. However, the completion of the process toward the all-volunteer force does not necessarily bring the end of conscription and a specific analysis of every country is presented to assess the rationale and prospects for change concerning this policy.
This chapter explains the emergence and complex pattern of popular resistance to military recruitment in pre-World War I Europe by pointing to two factors: the effects of…
This chapter explains the emergence and complex pattern of popular resistance to military recruitment in pre-World War I Europe by pointing to two factors: the effects of globalization on civilian wages and whether militaries used conscription or voluntary recruitment. By increasing civilian wages, globalization also increased the potential opportunity costs of military service in Europe. How these economic pressures became manifested in the state's military politics was determined by the institutions that states used to mobilize labor into the military. In conscripted systems (continental Europe), recruits were compelled to serve despite the growing cost of military service, thus politicizing popular opposition to military service. In voluntary systems (Britain), labor could respond to the rising opportunity costs of military service by simply not enlisting, meaning that the growing burden of military service did not become strongly politicized. Consequently, anti-militarism was strongest on the continent and weakest in Britain.