Mediating structures and the military: The case of religious soldiers

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Very few armed forces consciously relate to the religious component of soldiers' identities. Like religions, the military system demands individuals to conform to rules and schedules. Should military and religious obligations clash, soldiers are forced to choose. When modern armed forces relate to religious elements in their members' identities, how do they do so? What are the conditions most conducive to a military relating to the religious component of its soldiers' identities? This article posits a framework for the analysis of both questions, employing the concept of mediating structures to illustrate the mechanisms whereby militaries and religions accommodate each other and Luckham's typology of boundaries (integral, permeable, fragmented) to identify the conditions that are most-and least-hospitable to mediation. This framework is illustrated by references to institutional and individual relations between religion and armed forces in Iran, Israel, Turkey, the United States, and India.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-638
Number of pages24
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Civil-military boundaries
  • Mediating structure
  • Military
  • Religion


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