Disciplinary Views of War

views updated May 29 2018

Disciplinary Views of War AnthropologyCultural HistoryCauses‐of‐War StudiesDiplomatic HistoryEconomicsFeminist and Gender StudiesHistory of Science and TechnologyMilitary HistoryPeace HistoryPolitical Science and International RelationsPsychologySociety Studies
Disciplinary Views Of War: Anthropology Anthropology seeks the type of comparative explanations that are lacking in histories of specific wars or in the synchronic analyses of social and political science. Because of anthropology's access to the archeological and ethnographic data, it is well placed to analyze not only the causes of specific wars but also the origins of warfare itself.

The definitions of warfare anthropology uses to achieve this special focus are a source of continuing debate; in part because of these problems in defining war, some anthropologists turn to the study of peace, seeing war only as socially dysfunctional. However, most definitions of war draw attention to its collective and socially sanctioned nature, allowing its distinction from the great variety of human behaviors that demonstrate aggression and violence.

How, and with what causal significance, individual motivations, biological predispositions, and sociocultural purposes are manifest in warfare is therefore the substance of anthropological debate. In addition, anthropology's perspective allows special investigation of the persistence, positive consequences, and sociocultural variation in the practice of war. Traditionally, anthropology concentrated on the first two issues, and a number of derived causal models dominated the literature.

Biological models stressed the links between human and other primate violence, as well as the putative links between success in war and success in reproduction. The inference was that violent conflict was a critical factor in shaping human evolution and that this natural selection produced a cultural predilection for “war” ( Napoleon Chagnon, in Haas, 1990). More recently, biological anthropology is beginning to decouple small‐scale human warfare from simplistic evolutionary models ( Knauft, 1991), but the problem remains that even if genetic selection were occurring in war, this still wouldn’t explain why or how a change from war to peace occurs.

Ecological models suggested that war has a positive feedback for smaller‐scale societies by playing a hidden role in mediating relationships with the environment. Warfare was ethnographically noted to maintain space between settlements and so prevent resource degradation, or to provide a means to ensure the fluidity of settlement patterns critical to the practice of low‐intensity agriculture or nomadic pastoralism.

Social‐structural models developed the idea that certain types of social organization (or the lack thereof) impelled people to war. The antagonistic constitution of clan and lineage groupings, or the lack of any overarching authority in nonstate societies, were observed to create perennial tensions that might erupt into war.

However, the shortcomings of such models become very apparent when trying to explain the particular motivations and meanings that warriors give to their acts. The reductive nature of these models thus made many aspects of warfare—especially such phenomena as torture, cannibalism, or head‐hunting—even more obscure, something to be assigned to the “primitive savagery” of tribal societies. Yet, cultural values clearly affect the pragmatics of war. Hermeneutic approaches have revealed the symbolic and ritual influences that modulate modes and intensities of armed conflict. Case studies show the importance of ritual performance in forms of reciprocal warring, as well as illuminating the links between symbolic schema and the practices of cannibalism and trophy taking.

This kind of approach leads to wider debate on “cultures of resistance,” where the study of violent conflict in tribal societies is integrated with the study of terrorism, state repression, or guerrilla warfare. It is important to note that such approaches suggest that external linkages often underlie internal cultural patterns of conflict and violence; this is particularly evident during the regional intrusion of colonial powers or the local collapse of state authority.

Such recognition represents the starting point for the other main strand of current anthropological theory, which stresses diachronic processes. Like the hermeneutic approaches, historical anthropology suggests that there is no one cause for war, and that the specific circumstance of conflict must condition our explanations. Commitment to historical explanation means that questions are also asked about the origins of observed levels of conflict, and about the factors underlying their persistence. Previously, anthropology generally accepted the premise that tribal war was a given, part of what must be a long‐standing pattern of behavior. Recent work reacts against this presumption and through the concept of the “tribal zone” brings together a nuanced analysis of the hermeneutic approach with a historical appreciation of how external relations are critical in patterning a given war complex.

A tribal zone is defined as a spatial and conceptual arena affected by the proximity of state systems, but not under direct state control. European global colonialism is an obvious context in which this has occurred, but the implosion of a nation‐state is also an important context.

The consequence of being located within a tribal zone is rapid sociocultural transformation, occurring through the linked processes of militarization and tribalization. Militarization refers to the growth in armed collective violence, whose purpose, conduct, and technology rapidly adapts to the threat of state expansion or collapse. This often leads to the emergence of ethnic soldiering, whereby collective identities become indissolubly linked to military capabilities—either as specialists in state armies, or as guerrillas in opposition to them. Tribalization is the social corollary of this process, through which collective sentiments are transformed into overt political principles, as seen in the emergence of authoritarian or charismatic leaders during times of war. There is also an increasing rigidity in sociocultural boundaries and a burgeoning economic dependency on an intrusive state system or transnational institutions.

The main implications of these recent theoretical innovations for the future anthropological study of war are, first, that the militarizing effects of state expansion or collapse typically precede ethnographic or journalistic accounts of local warfare, and so cannot be taken as direct evidence of other people's predilection for war. Second, that state systems tend to intensify existing local levels of conflict and rarely suppress them, except through an even deadlier application of force. Third, that tribe/state interactions, not just existing indigenous cultural patterns, produce observed levels of warfare. In turn, local warfare may be transformed through these external links into new forms of violence emerging as banditry, terrorism, or guerrilla conflict. Ethnic sentiment is not the direct cause of war but can itself be a consequence of those extraneous factors that structure many “tribal” conflicts, or those wherein nation‐states confront ethnic minorities.
[See also: Agriculture and War; Ethnicity and War; Society and War; Terrorism and Counterterrorism.]


R. Rosaldo , Ilongot Headhunting, 1883–1974, 1980.
Raymond C. Kelly , The Nuer Conquest. The Structure and Development of an Expansionist System, 1985.
J. Haas , The Anthropology of War, 1990.
B. Knauft , Violence and Sociality in Human Evolution, Current Anthropology, 32 (1991), pp. 391–428.
R. B. Ferguson and and N. L. Whitehead , War in the Tribal Zone. Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare, 1992.
E. Viveiros de Castro , From the Enemy's Point of View, 1992.

Neil L. Whitehead

Disciplinary Views Of War: Cultural History The study of the cultural history of war is the analysis of the ways groups and individuals ascribe meaning to military conflict: in anticipation, during such conflict, or in its aftermath.

Research has concentrated on four specific areas. The first focuses on the role in military history of popular culture, understood as the codes, gestures, and forms of voluntary associations and collectives, elaborated not through the state but in civil society and through the marketplace. These associations engage in leisure activities at home while war goes on elsewhere. Through such activities they expresses commonly held notions about the rights and wrongs of military conflict, the nature of military service, and views of the enemy. In every war, entrepreneurs sell items or services that derive from these forms of expression. Profit and patriotism frequently go hand in hand. Here the emphasis is on the evolution of propaganda, not necessarily manipulated from above, but consonant with prewar cultural forms and modes of expression, like music hall, organized sports, or the cinema. The destination is a deeper understanding of what may be termed wartime culture, or the negotiation of consent through entertainment or other cultural activities.

Examples of this kind of research include the analysis of the intersection of the history of motion pictures with the two world wars. Newsreels are usually manipulated forms of disseminated information. Cultural historians recognize this area, but turn more frequently to the commercial film industry and its indirect messages, which by that very fact makes them subtler and more powerful carriers of ideas about war than officially produced films or newsreels.

The second area of research concerns the impact of war on cultural forms. Here the emphasis is on writers, artists, and other workers in the field of cultural reproduction. Many are deeply affected by their own military service, and spend years elaborating the echoes and nightmares that inhabit their imagination. Others turn to political activism and use their art to convey messages about war to the yet unknowing world.

Edmund Wilson's study of American writing after the Civil War, Patriotic Gore, is a case in point. Here the echoes of the Civil War were heard in areas of American cultural life not usually associated with the conflict. Oliver Wendell Holmes's “cosmic skepticism” is one kind of cultural outcome of war with consequences far beyond the field of military affairs.

The third area well developed in this field is the analysis of the indirect effects of war on other cultural forms, such as notions of gender, insanity, or race. Here the focus is less on war and its representations than on the way war highlights or deflects notions of difference between classes, races, ethnic groups, or men and women.

Much attention has been focused on the “overfeminization” of women in wartime, their relegation to a maternal role less threatening to patriarchy than their continued participation after the war in industrial employment. Notions of racial injustice have also been explored in the aftermath of maltreatment of African Americans or other racial and ethnic groups while in uniform, or simply as suspect groups in wartime. The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is a subject that highlights the effect of war on preexisting racial and ethnic prejudices.

The history of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), in existence long before it was recognized as a medical syndrome in 1980, is a subject that has drawn many scholars in the field of cultural studies and medical history. It throws considerable light on the way we understand mental illness and on the evolution of its treatment.

The fourth area of research is the study of sites associated with war. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans' Memorial are just two such sites; thousands exist in towns and parks surrounding battlefields. The iconography, preparation, and reception of these sites are central parts of American cultural history.
[See also: Film, War and the Military in; Gender and War; Memorials, War; Propaganda and Public Relations, Government.]


Edmund Wilson , Patriot Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War, 1962.
Paul Fussell , The Great War and Modern Memory, 1977.
Paul Fussell , Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World, 1990.
Maya Lin, et al. , Grounds for Remembering, 1995.
Samuel Hynes , The Soldier's Tale. Bearing Witness to Modern War, 1997.

Jay Winter

Disciplinary Views Of War: Causes‐Of‐War Studies The causes of war have puzzled Western thinkers since Thucydides attributed the Peloponnesian War to fear of the growing power of Athens. Machiavelli thought that war was the natural order of things and fighting the first business of the prince. Immanuel Kant noted that states with republican regimes were more peaceful than other states, an insight that anticipated a flurry of scholarship at the end of the Cold War.

The systematic study of the causes of war, however, emerged only in the twentieth century. The greatest achievement in the field was stimulated by World War I. Following that unexpectedly costly and protracted war, scholars sought its causes in biology, psychiatry, politics, statistics, anthropology, history, and other disciplines. A group of scholars at the University of Chicago sought to synthesize these disciplinary analyses. Working from 1926 to 1942, they produced the monumental A Study of War under the authorship of political scientist Quincy Wright

Wright developed a four‐tier model of the causes and nature of war. Animal warfare, he believed, was driven by biological instincts. Primitive war was driven by the nature of society. What he called civilized war, that is, war among states after the appearance of civilizations, was driven by the nature of the international system. And modern war, war after 1500, was driven by technology. The primary drive in each era, he believed, dominated the shaping of war but did not entirely eliminate the drives still extant from previous eras.

Historians and political scientists have taken the lead since Wright in exploring the causes of war. Kenneth Waltz influenced many successors with Man, the State, and War (1954)
, a three‐tier model similar to Wright's but without animal warfare. Subsequent literature in the field may be divided among those that look for the causes of war in individual behavior or decision making, the political imperatives of individual states, or the anarchy of the international system. As yet, no general theory has captured a consensus. Historians such as Michael Howard—The Causes of War (1983)—and John Stoessinger —Why Nations Go to War (1974)
—have attempted to generalize from specific cases without reducing their conclusions to theory. Neither political science nor historical discipline has succeeded in integrating theories and explanations of nuclear war with those of conventional war.

Scholars in other disciplines have also continued to study the causes of war. Anthropologists, sociologists, biologists, psychologists, and economists have all advanced theories. Whole new disciplines, such as conflict resolution and peace studies, have grown up around the topic. One tendency within this scholarship has been to define war more broadly than heretofore and to seek to understand the nature of all large‐scale, organized intergroup violence. Yet little interdisciplinary work has followed in the tradition of Quincy Wright. With the end of the Cold War, two scholarly communities, one at Rutgers University and another at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have turned their attention to interdisciplinary study of this topic.
[See also Clausewitz, Carl von; Disciplinary Views of War: Political Science and International Relations; Peace and Antiwar Movements; War.]

Alex Roland

Disciplinary Views Of War: Diplomatic History In a simpler time, diplomatic historians wrote about what diplomats did. And in that simpler time, war was war, peace was peace, and the twain met only when countries exchanged declarations of belligerence or negotiated armistices and surrenders. Consequently, although the diplomatic historians had much to relate regarding how wars began and how they ended, they had little to offer about war per se. They covered events up to the moment the antagonists broke diplomatic relations, and resumed the story when the belligerents began suing for peace. Alliance diplomacy, in those cases when the United States had allies, gave them partial employment for the duration. But just as the diplomats left the fighting itself to the generals, so the diplomatic historians left war to the military historians. For every chapter the diplomatic historians devoted to American participation in World War I, they wrote a dozen on the period of American neutrality or on Wilsonian peacemaking. The road to Pearl Harbor quickly grew crowded with diplomatic historians explaining how the United States got itself to 7 December 1941; the same generation of diplomatic historians found far less to say about the global conflict that followed.

But the traditional treatment broke down under the unusual circumstances of the Cold War. The superpower struggle belied the conventional dichotomy between war and peace; Americans now found themselves in a chronic condition that was neither one nor quite the other. Moreover, the principal U.S. armed conflicts of the Cold War—in Korea and Vietnam—were undeclared, partially proxy contests, and never provoked the United States and the Soviet Union to break diplomatic relations. (Relation breaking—the traditional precursor to belligerence—had been another reason the diplomats left war to the generals: wars put them out of business.) But the diplomats found themselves busier than ever during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, struggling to keep those limited conflicts limited. Diplomatic historians, who habitually shadowed diplomats at a distance of five to thirty years, found themselves necessarily drawn into this no‐man's‐land.

In addition, even as the context of diplomacy was changing during the Cold War, so was the context of diplomatic history. Starting in the 1960s, the American historical profession experienced a revolt against elitism. The study of governing groups and ruling classes gave way to investigations into the lives of common people. Women and racial and ethnic minorities were judged more interesting than white males. Political history was supplanted by social and cultural history. On nearly all points, traditional diplomatic history came under attack: its subjects were overwhelmingly white and male; they operated, even if they didn’t always originate, as an exclusive elite; and their actions were frequently quite removed from the concerns of ordinary folks.

It was a toss‐up whether the assault from within the academy or the changing reality of the Cold War was the more responsible, but between the two influences the diplomatic historians altered their approach to war. It certainly was not coincidental that the alteration accelerated with the souring of the American intervention in Vietnam—the single event of the Cold War that went farthest toward discrediting diplomatic elites and rebutting received notions regarding the nature of war. Quite obviously, the diplomats had got things horribly wrong. The diplomatic historians, in order to understand the error and prevent its repetition, needed to lift themselves to a higher plane of understanding. The diplomats had misconceived the social and cultural roots of Vietnamese resistance; the diplomatic historians must make such social and cultural roots central elements of a new, more inclusive, and presumably more enlightening diplomatic history.

The earliest reexamination involved the origins of the Cold War. Historians being the reflexive regressionists they are, this in turn provoked a fresh look at previous wars. Radical revisionists like Gabriel Kolko saw the Cold War as the inevitable outgrowth of decisions made during World War II; John Lewis Gaddis and other moderate “post revisionists” interpreted the outgrowth as not exactly inevitable but still strongly influenced by developments of the war years. Atomic revisionist Gar Alperowitz was even more explicit in describing the last shots of World War II as the first shots of the Cold War. Others among the new generation of diplomatic historians (now often restyled “historians of American foreign relations,” a label designed to encompass unofficial relations as well as the official ones dear to the diplomats) applied the revisionist analysis to World War I. N. Gordon Levin, Jr., found the battle between the belligerents in the Great War to be less instructive than the jockeying for position between Woodrow Wilson and Lenin; Lloyd C. Gardner perceived the war as part of a larger American drive for ideological hegemony.

The first wave of revisionists typically stayed within the bounds of traditional diplomatic history, if not within the traditional lines of war and peace; gradually, however, the culturally inclined exponents of the “new diplomatic history” gained a voice. Foremost among these was Akira Iriye, who interpreted the Pacific War less as a clash of American and Japanese arms than as a long‐building collision between American and Japanese cultures. Iriye was comparatively highbrow, as the culturalists went, concentrating on the more literate representatives of the Pacific Rim cultures. John W. Dower took a lower road, ‐examining popular wartime stereotypes in all their scurrilousness. An entire school of interpretation adopted the same tack for the Vietnam War: the failure of American culture, it was discovered, predestined the United States to defeat in Indochina.

The cultural‐egalitarian approach didn’t convince all diplomatic historians, many of whom pointed out that whether one liked it or not, elites wielded power, especially over foreign policy. Yet, unwilling, in an age of academic multiculturalism, to be seen as apologists for tradition, some diplomatic historians adopted what amounted to an elitist alternative to multiculturalism, namely, multiarchivalism. These researchers deliberately decentered the debate and deprivileged the United States, traveling to foreign archives and taking pains to write from the perspective of foreign governments. Pains were indeed often required, since few foreign governments granted anything like the access to internal records that Washington did (although the end of the Cold War resulted in opened archives in certain formerly Communist countries). That most international conflict of the Cold War—the Korean War—was a natural candidate for the internationalist approach. Strikingly, the insights the internationalists provided forced only modest revisions of traditional views on the subject.
[See also Cold War: Changing Interpretations; Vietnam War: Changing Interpretations.]


Herbert Feis , The Road to Pearl Harbor, 1950.
Gar Alperowitz , Atomic Diplomacy, 1965.
Gabriel Kolko , The Politics of War, 1968.
N. Gordon Levin Jr. , Woodrow Wilson and World Politics, 1968.
John Lewis Gaddis , The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1972.
Lloyd C. Gardner , Safe for Democracy, 1984.
Loren Baritz , Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did, 1985.
John W. Dower , War Without Mercy, 1986.
Akira Iriye , The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific, 1987.
H. W. Brands , The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War, 1993.
William Stueck , The Korean War: An International History, 1995.

H. W. Brands

Disciplinary Views Of War: Economics Wars are often assumed to be special cases in which the normal principles of economics do not apply. In fact, however, economics has much to say about wars, and much to learn from them.

Consider first the financing of wars. There are numerous ways of raising the necessary resources. The government can, for example, simply commandeer resources from its own citizens or from its enemies. Conscription has been the most important example of commandeering in the United States. But in terms of financial resources, three have been predominant: borrowing, taxing, and printing money.

But which source, or combination of sources, of finance is best? In his Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith
argued that when a war is financed by debt, there is only a small increase in taxes: the increase needed to meet the interest on the debt. The smallness of the increase, Smith argued, conceals the cost of the war and weakens opposition to it. Raising taxes high enough to pay expenses as they are incurred (“pay‐as‐you go”) would mean that wars were accompanied by sharp increases in taxes, and that “Wars would be in general more speedily concluded and less wantonly undertaken.”

For almost two centuries this was the orthodox view. It was challenged in the 1940s and 1950s by Keynesian economists, but the major challenge is more recent. A number of economists, including Robert Lucas and Marvin Goodfriend, have argued that high wartime taxes distort the allocation of resources. Governments, according to these economists, should smooth tax rates over time by issuing debt during a war and gradually retiring afterwards. Economics has come full circle: the policy that Smith rejected is the new orthodoxy.

What about simply printing money? There has been no reversal on this question: economists, with few exceptions, have rejected it. First, printing money produces inflation, and undesirable redistributions of wealth—the classic problem of widows and orphans living on fixed incomes. Second, inflation produces attempts to economize on use of cash that reduce efficiency. In the extreme case, barter replaces the use of money. But printing money has its advantages. First, printing money, unlike taxing, does not require an administrative bureaucracy. This explains why printing money was the primary source of finance in the Revolutionary War and for the South in the Civil War. Second, the government may be able to blame “shortages” or “war profiteers” for the inflation, thus concealing the costs of war. Finally, the distortions produced by a moderate inflation may be similar to those produced by various taxes. For these reasons, printing money has been used to finance part of all wars in the United States.

Economists have also been concerned with how labor is procured for the armed forces. Smith, and the economists who followed him, argued that the state should rely on a paid professional army because normally it could defeat even a much larger part‐time militia, another example of the increased efficiency produced by the specialization of labor.

Modern economists have continued to prefer paid professional forces. During the Vietnam era, economists such as Milton Friedman and Walter Oi took an active role in the debate over the draft. One of their points was that the budgetary savings from conscription are illusory. What the taxpayer saves—the difference between what a conscript would have to be paid to induce him or her to serve voluntarily and the pay the conscript actually receives—does not go unpaid; it is paid by the conscript. Hiring military personnel, moreover, reduces the output loss in the civilian sector because the most highly paid, and therefore most productive, workers remain in the private sector. Thus, the draft illustrates the conflict between efficiency and equity. Efficiency calls for paid professionals, but the result may be a “rich man's war and a poor man's fight.” In the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, draftees were allowed to hire substitutes. This reduced the output loss in the civilian economy, but produced bitter resentment. In the twentieth century, the United States chose conscription combined with exemptions designed, in part, to minimize damage to the civilian sector.

During nineteenth‐century wars, the United States generally left the allocation of resources within the private sector to the market. In World Wars I and II and the Korean War, however, the government tried to control the private sector with price controls, rationing, and bureaucratic controls over investment. Partly, these policies reflected the loss of confidence in the market. Some economists argued that wars were a special case in which benefits of planning outweighed the costs. During a war, for example, one of the strengths of a market economy, its ability to generate information about the tastes and preferences of the public, is of great importance. Whether in fact the array of controls imposed during these wars improved the equity or efficiency of the economy is a matter of debate.

Economists have also contributed by measuring the long‐term costs and benefits of war. The main point is to look beyond government budgets to the losses in physical and human capital. In the North during the Civil War, and in the two world wars, the United States suffered little direct damage to its physical capital. In World War II, moreover, it is not even clear that the capital stock was less at the end of the war than it would have been if peace had continued, because the war restored full employment and the government invested directly in new plant and equipment that was useful in peacetime. Losses in human capital have been even harder to assess. One complicating factor is that the United States has been able to make good much of its wartime losses of human capital by altering its immigration policies.

In addition, economists have attended to the institutional legacy of wars. At one time it was believed that the Civil War created an array of institutional changes (freedom for the slaves, transcontinental railroads, a national banking system, and so on) that produced rapid industrialization after the war. That thesis, however, has been challenged and the case remains open. Similarly, it has been argued that World War II left the United States in a unique position in the world economy, which created the basis for rapid expansion until the 1970s. This case also remains open.

These examples may be sufficient to illustrate the value of economics in the study of war, and the challenges that still await economists and economic historians.
[See also Economics and War; Public Financing and Budgeting for War.]


John Kenneth Galbraith , A Theory of Price Control, 1952.
Stanley E. Engerman , The Economic Impact of the Civil War, in Stanley E. Engerman and Robert W. Fogel, eds., The Reinterpretation of American Economic History, 1971.
Alan S. Millward , War, Economy and Society, 1939–45, 1979.
Hugh Rockoff , Drastic Measures: A History of Wage and Price Controls in the United States, 1984.
Harold G. Vatter , The U.S. Economy in World War II, 1985.
Robert Higgs , Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Issues in the Emergence of the Mixed Economy, 1986.
Roger L. Ransom , Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and the American Civil War, 1989.
Geofrey Mills and Hugh Rockoff, eds., The Sinews of War: Essays on the Economic History of World War II, 1993.

Hugh Rockoff

Disciplinary Views Of War: Feminist and Gender Studies Feminist questions about war and peace challenge a number of basic definitions, identifications, and exclusions. These challenges are both theoretical and archival; they have changed the way that we understand men's as well as women's experiences.

The traditional doctrine of “separate spheres” for men and women assumed that war was men's business, peace that of women; men were “just warriors,” while women were “beautiful souls” (see Jean Bethke Elshtain). As Harriet Hyman Alonso has shown, some women pacifists have embraced the view that the experience or concept of maternity inclines them to pacifism. Combat belonged to the public arena, and was opposed to the private hearth for which war was allegedly waged. In an extension of this paradigm that has sometimes fostered misogyny, men were understood to be at the battle front, while women remained safe at the home front.

These assumptions have all been challenged by feminist studies such as Cynthia Enloe's Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women's Lives (1983), the double issue on women's peace studies of Women's Studies Quarterly (1995), and Twentieth‐Century Women in Wartime, a special issue of the International History Review (1997).

One of the factors enabling a reassessment of the relationship between war and the construction of gender has been the shift by historians from a study of events to the study of social structures, the economy, and mentalities. Feminist historians have as a rule rejected the understanding of war as a set of material or political facts. Critical to their analysis has been the distinction between military combat, which in most Western cultures has been an exclusively or predominantly male activity, and the larger phenomenon of war, which involves political structures, economic organization, and social hierarchies, and thus affects noncombatants as well as combatants, women as well as men.

Conventional views hold that the knowledge of combat divides male soldiers from women and other civilians. The line is drawn not only in fiction by men, but in that by women, from Edith Wharton's A Son at the Front (1923) to Bobbie Ann Mason's In Country (1985). This view, however, does not allow for the nature of modern warfare, with blanket bombing, group massacres, and increasingly remote technology that blurs the line between men pushing buttons and women assembling electronic weaponry.

Historians now argue that women's wartime experiences carry them across most of these theoretical lines. Undercutting the distinction between battle front and home front, scholars like Enloe have shown that women of different kinds have always been at “the front,” as sutlers selling provisions, “Camp followers,” nurses, wives, or as victims of theft and violence by occupying forces, and sometimes as fighters themselves. In the study of women in the military, interest has revived in controversial women who cross‐dressed in order to fight, reaching back to such figures as Deborah Sampson, who fought during the Revolutionary War; Loreta Janeta Velasquez, whose The Woman in Battle (1876) recalled her service as a lieutenant in the Confederate army; and Emma Edmonds, whose autobiography, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army (1865), supported her subsequent campaign for a pension. Women, in short, have not been exclusively passive, pacific, or victimized. The line between battle and home front is also complicated by the mobilization of noncombatants for military purposes (e.g., in munitions, communications, and auxiliary services).

A further fundamental challenge comes from feminist work on the coexistence of military structures with peacetime politics. The sharp distinction between war and peace has been eroded. So has that between a formally constituted military force and the network of informal, linked institutions such as prostitution or industrial suppliers. This erosion has necessarily revised the temporal definition of war experience. The aim of war to inflict pain (see Elaine Scarry), forces the examination of the long‐term consequences of wartime violence both for those firing guns under fire and for their victims. Once we recognize pain as a goal of warfare, we can better understand the impact of war on women. The memorializing of war in museums tends to fetishize weaponry, but work on the trauma of Holocaust survivors and of Vietnam veterans (including nurses as well as soldiers) brings us closer to the ramifications of war.

By distinguishing between the social reality and the symbolic construction of gender roles, some scholars have explored how significant social and economic shifts in women's assigned roles during wartime could fail to endure in the postwar period (see Higonnet, et al.). Women have drawn on traditional images of their role as moral (endorsing abolitionism, pacifism, or maternalism) in order to justify wartime entry into the public sphere. World War II images of Rosie the Riveter anchor the heterosexual order while permitting women to enter a male world, according to Maureen Honey and others. The feminist interest in the representation of masculinity and femininity has also fostered fresh work on the wartime gendering of the enemy (as effeminate), of politicians (as impotent), and of women (as unsexed), by feminist scholars such as Susan Jeffords. This turn to questions of language has been accompanied by a renewed study of the eroticization of aggression and violence.

Revisionist historians argue that the variety of women's wartime experiences behind the lines depends on their class, ethnicity, geographic location, or political alignment. The Civil War contributions of Northern and Southern women, for example, are now distinguished by such scholars as Elizabeth D. Leonard, in Yankee Women (1994), Catherine Clinton, in Tara Revisited: Women, War and the Plantation Legend (1995), and Drew Gilpin Faust, in Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (1996).

In order to explore this variety, feminist historians have also turned to new kinds of resources—not only memoirs or letters but oral history interviews, as in Sherna Gluck's Rosie the Riveter Revisited (1987). While earlier histories focused on elites, this new work extends the reach of history to women of the working classes, including women of different ethnicities, whose lack of literacy, leisure, and a forum prevented them from recording their experiences. These new methodologies aim to revise former exclusions and broaden our understanding of the scope of war.
[See also: Gender; Gender and War; Pacifism; Women in the Military.]


Maureen Honey , Creating Rosie the Riveter, 1984.
Elaine Scarry , The Body in Pain, 1985.
Jean Bethke Elshtain , Women and War, 1987.
Margaret R. Higonet, et al., eds., Behind the Lines: Gender and the Two World Wars, 1987.
Susan Jeffords , The Remasculinizing of America, 1989.
Harriet Hyman Alonso , Peace as a Woman's Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women's Rights, 1993.

Margaret Higonnet

Disciplinary Views Of War: History Of Science and Technology The history of science had its roots in intellectual history; it studied the ideas of great men. George Sarton launched the field on its modern, independent trajectory with the creation of the journal Isis in 1912 and the History of Science Society in 1924. The history of technology had its roots both in the history of science and in economic history. Its autonomy as a field began with the founding of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) and the journal Technology and Culture in 1958.

Until World War II, historians of science paid little attention to war and the military, in spite of the fact that both loomed large in the lives and work of scientists as disparate and renowned as Archimedes, Galileo, and Lavoisier. The few exceptions, such as Robert Merton's classic Science, Technology and Society in Seventeenth‐Century England (1938), prove the rule; Merton, in fact, was a sociologist. In contrast, historians of technology appreciated the importance of military topics before the creation of SHOT. For example, the standard multivolume reference works all have extensive coverage of military topics: Charles J. Singer, et al. , A History of Technology, 8 vols. (1954–84)
; Maurice Daumas, ed., Historie général des techniques, English trans. by Eileen B. Hennessy, 3 vols. (1970)
; and Melvin Kranzberg> and Carroll Pursell, eds., Technology in Western Civilization, 2 vols. (1967)
. The last work actually was sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Lewis Mumford's Technics and Civilization (1932) established a benchmark among pre–World War II studies. In this synthetic, richly interpretive overview of Western experience, Mumford identified four loci of what he saw as the deterioration of civilization from its natural, organic state to a perverse, mechanistic, artificial corruption that had set in during the modern era. These loci were the soldier, the miner, the cleric, and the accountant. The solder was responsible, in Mumford's view, for the regimentation of life and work and the subordination of the individual to the group.

In 1932, Mumford had hoped that the twentieth century, a period he called the neotechnic era, would witness a return to natural, organic values. Instead, civilization continued to disappoint him, prompting his two‐volume study, The Myth of the Machine (1967–70). In the second volume, The Pentagon of Power, Mumford portrayed the military‐industrial complex as the sad culmination of the mechanistic, authoritarian tendencies he had first identified in Technics and Civilization. The greening of civilization had failed to materialize.

Other works appearing in Mumford's prime were less judgmental. For example, Carlo Cipolla, an economic historian, argued in Guns, Sails, and Empire (1965) that the West had established hegemony over the world's littoral in the early modern period by exploiting the superior military technology of the heavy cannon and the side‐gunned sailing ship. Lynn White, Jr., argued in Medieval Technology and Social Change (1962) that the introduction of the stirrup in eighth‐century Europe empowered the mounted warrior and thus catalyzed the feudal system. Both books have been interpreted as indulging in technological determinism. This claim places them in the same category as Jacques Ellul's The Technological Society (1964), an alarmist tract lamenting the loss of human agency in the face of increasingly autonomous technological imperatives.

Against this interpretation has emerged a school of thought generally described as social constructivist. Adherents of this school, whose roots are in European sociology, argue that all technologies are socially constructed, that is, they take their form and their role in society from human decisions. An excellent example of this kind of analysis is Donald MacKenzie's Inventing Accuracy: An Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missiles and Guidance (1990). That the debate between these two schools remains unsettled is manifest in Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx, eds., Does Technology Determine History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism (1994).

Many important works have escaped this controversy. For example, Merritt Roe Smith's Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology: The Challenge of Change (1977) explored the revolution in small arms manufacture that lay behind the so‐called American System. In the process he called into question America's purported love affair with technology.

A related issue, military conservatism, received its most influential treatment in Elting Morison's Men, Machines, and Modern Times (1966), especially in his seminal essay Gunfire at Sea. Morison eschewed the temptation to stereotype the military, arguing instead that “military organizations are really societies, more rigidly structured, more highly integrated, than most communities, but still societies.” Their response to technological change, he believed, differed in degree but not in kind from that of other societies. Military officers in general and naval officers in particular had good reasons to cherish proven technologies and to resist innovation; after all, they risked their lives and the lives of their subordinates on that technology. Arms and equipment that had been proven in battle were bound to appear more secure and trustworthy than new technology yet to win its spurs. Morison went so far as to argue in another article that we would do well to recognize “the destructive energy in machinery.” His examination of the navy's skepticism about the revolutionary warship Wampanoag after the Civil War presents naval conservatism in a new light, almost as an early aversion to the dangers of autonomous technology.

The great irony about traditional military conservatism toward technological change is that it reversed itself completely after World War II. This was the first war in which the weapons deployed at the end were significantly different from those with which it was launched; the most familiar examples are jet aircraft, ballistic missiles, proximity fuses, and, of course, the atomic bomb. These developments convinced the services that the desideratum of modern war was shifting from industrial production to technological development. The next war would be won in the research laboratory fully as much as the factory. Thus began the hothouse environment of military research and development that produced a new arms race, military‐industrial complexes in the United States and abroad, and the expansion of military interest and funds into new realms, such as computers, communications, space flight, microelectronics, astrophysics, and a host of other fields.

Many scholars writing in this environment found their views and conclusions shaped by the Cold War and the military‐industrial complex. Perhaps the most influential was William H. McNeill, whose The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society Since A.D. 1000 (1982) explored the relationship between technology and war through the second millennium. McNeill believed that free enterprise had driven the explosion of military technology in the late Middle Ages and early modern periods, only to be replaced by command economies in the twentieth century. Under state direction, these economies drove the nuclear arms race, which threatened human survival. Implicit in McNeill's work was a belief that historians should understand, expose, and perhaps deflect a military‐technical trajectory that seemed headed to Armageddon.

The topic has attracted historians of science as well. Following the lead of scientists themselves, historians of science turned increasingly after World War II to military topics in general, and the moral and political implications of nuclear weapons in particular. The ethical concerns about developing weapons that some scientists have had throughout history were magnified in the twentieth century as scientific knowledge and expertise were bent on producing weapons of mass destruction—gas in World War I and most especially the atomic bomb in World War II.

Between 1950 and 1990, a significant body of scholarship explored the military‐industrial complex, the making of science policy, the ethical position of the scientist, and the militarization of universities and other centers of scientific and technical research. Paul Forman provided a benchmark in this scholarship with his seminal study, Behind Quantum Electronics: National Security as Basis for Physical Research in the United States, 1940–1960, Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 18 (1987)
. Others have expressed many of the same concerns. Michael Sherry's The Rise of American Airpower (1987) finds “technological fanaticism” in the infatuation with strategic bombing that gripped American air force officers after 1930. In Forces of Production (1984), David Noble demonstrates the ways in which military imperatives shaped the development of numerically controlled machine tools in the United States. Stuart W. Leslie saw a perverse military influence on two of America's leading research universities in The Cold War and American Science: The Military‐Industrial Complex at MIT and Stanford (1993). The end of the Cold War seems to have shrunken this branch of scholarship, but it is unlikely to entirely disappear.

Meanwhile, the best scholarship in the history of science and technology combines solid grounding in the technical material with rich contextualization. For example, Hugh G. J. Aitken's Taylorism at Watertown Arsenal: Scientific Management in Action (1960) explores the military roots of American technological and industrial practice. Daniel Kevles's The Physicists (1964) reveals the ways in which physics and war shaped each other in the United States. Richard Rhodes examines the Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986) with unprecedented insight and precision, virtues also present in his sequel, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (1995). As the Cold War recedes into history, it may be expected that historians of science and technology will be less influenced by the passions of that conflict and even more inclined to see war and the military as important contextual issues.
[See also: Society and War.]

Alex Roland

Disciplinary Views Of War: Military History Certainly in Western Society, given the frequency of warfare, it could be said with only slight exaggeration that before the eighteenth century little history of any kind was written that was not “military” history, and in antiquity virtually none. Homer might claim to be the first military historian, and Thucydides is still often considered the greatest, while the Anabasis of Xenophon continued to be read until the eighteenth century, not only for the heroic story it had to tell of the Greco‐Persian conflict, but also for its shrewd advice about the conduct of war. The work of the Romans Polybius, Livy, and of course Julius Caesar also survived the so‐called Dark Ages to be revived in the Renaissance for their didactic value, as were the more analytic works of Aelian and Vegetius. Medieval military studies were of less value to the practical soldier. They had consisted, on the one hand, of heroic epics such as the Song of Roland, and the anecdotes of the Crusades put together under the title Gesta Dei per Francos, or, a little later, the chronicles of Holinshed and Froissart (to name only the best known); or, on the other, of handbooks of chivalric practice that bore little relation to the grim reality of medieval warfare. It is not surprising that serious students of war in the sixteenth century turned back to antiquity for guidance, as did Niccolò Machiavelli with his Discourses on Livy, and the Netherlander Justus Lipsius, whose studies of Polybius laid the foundation for the military reforms introduced into Europe by the house of Orange‐Nassau that were to transform the conduct of war until the age of Napoleon.

The military historiography of Europe in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries was as diffuse and episodic as the nature of warfare itself. It was not until the middle years of the seventeenth century that the simplification of the chaotic Thirty Years' War into a century‐long contest between the power of France and the Habsburg Empire made it possible to write histories that were more than chronicles of episodic sieges or, very infrequently, of battles. The works of that epoch that have worn best are the memoirs of the remarkably literate and civilized aristocrats who conducted the wars. In 1660, the vicomte de Turenne published his Memoirs, and the vicomte de Puységur his historically based Instructions Militaires. In 1680, Count Montecucculi produced his own account of the campaigns he had conducted against the Turks. In these works, historical narrative combined with strategic and tactical analysis to lay the foundation for military history as it was to be understood for the next 200 years.

By the eighteenth century, historians were beginning to study contemporary campaigns as they had previously studied those of classical antiquity, as a guide to military action in the future. The foundation by all major European powers of military colleges for the training of officers created a steady demand for their works. Frederick the Great produced dry but useful accounts of his own campaigns, but the first serious analytic study is usually considered to be that of Henry Humphrey Lloyd on the Seven Years' War, A History of the Late Wars in Germany, which was published in 1766 and was translated into German with an extended commentary by G. F. von Tempelhoff in 1783. But this was overtaken in the 1790s by the years of almost continuous warfare unleashed on Europe by the French Revolution and then the Napoleonic era, which was to be accompanied by a deluge of military history that even now shows little sign of diminishing.

To single out any single work on the Napoleonic wars would be invidious, although for English‐speaking readers William Napier's History of the War in the Peninsula (1828–40) will always enjoy pride of place for its spectacular narratives. The most influential near‐contemporary study embracing the whole period, however, was certainly that of Antoine Henri Jomini, whose Traité des grandes opérations militaires, initiated in 1804 and constantly revised until 1851, not only covered the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars in their entirety but collated them with the campaigns of Frederick the Great in a single synoptic overview of “modern war” that was to be immensely influential throughout the nineteenth century. The historical studies of his contemporary and rival Carl von Clausewitz, mainly published after that writer's death in 1832 and written primarily as preparatory studies for his subsequent masterpiece On War, made less impact, even within his native Prussia, until his disciple Gen. Helmuth von Moltke made them compulsory reading for the Prussian General Staff beginning in the 1870s.

With von Moltke (1800–1891), the writing of military history underwent a transformation, which was itself part of the general historiographical revolution initiated in Prussia in the nineteenth century by Leopold von Ranke and his followers. The task of the military historian, in the eyes of von Moltke, was to be of service to the military profession, and that historian's primary duty was to discover exactly what had happened in war; a task, in major warfare, of almost impossible complexity. In Moltke's view, all attempts to glorify armies and their commanders, to recreate the horror and splendor of battle, even to draw broad didactic conclusions, had to be subordinated to the precise, scientific description and analysis of events; a task best carried out, not by individuals—certainly not civilian individuals—but by professional research teams under the auspices of the General Staff. The first such study was that which Moltke commissioned, and very largely wrote himself, on the Franco‐Austrian War of 1859, which was followed by immensely detailed works on the Austro‐Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco‐Prussian War of 1870. Thereafter, the War‐Historical Section of the German General Staff earned its keep by detailed archival studies of Prussia's earlier wars, until the turn of the century brought it new wars to study, particularly the Anglo‐Boer War of 1899–1901 and the Russo‐Japanese War of 1904–05.

In this as in all other military matters, Germany set the standards for other military powers. European armies established Historical Sections in their General Staffs to study their own and others' campaigns on a documentary basis, producing works as massive as they are now unreadable. Those of the French are an exception: their studies of military developments in the eighteenth century were models of analysis and readability, and some of their writers, notably Jean Colin, emerged as major military historians in their own right. Colin's Les transformations de la guerre (1912) remains one of the best surveys of the development of warfare from antiquity to the twentieth century yet written.

By the beginning of the twentieth century a huge gap had thus opened up in Continental Europe between the narrowly specialized military histories written by military professionals and those addressed to wider audiences by civilian writers, who were often not professional historians at all. It was a highly professional historian who first attempted to reverse the trend, the German Hans Delbrück; who criticized the specialized approach of his military colleagues; and who in 1900 published the first volume of his Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politische Geschichte (History of the Art of War in the Framework of Military History). He aroused the wrath both of his academic colleagues and of the German High Command, who were united in the belief that civilians had no business to be meddling in military matters. But his work reintroduced military history into the mainstream of general historiography. Although it would take the best part of half a century for this fully to take effect.

In Britain and the United States, military history never became quite so narrowly specialized as in Continental Europe, for the obvious reason that in those countries the military, let alone its General Staff, commanded far less influence. In Britain it is true that a Historical Section was established at the beginning of the twentieth century under the Committee for Imperial Defence. It published exhaustive studies of the South African and the Russo‐Japanese Wars, and did the same with a multivolume history of World War I. Of the latter, the monographs by F. Aspinall Oglander on the Gallipoli and by Cyril Falls on the Salonika Campaigns have some value, but the sheer weight of material overwhelmed the authors of the volumes on the western front, which are now of value only for the source material they provide. In the United States, the War Department first dealt with the history of the Civil War in a multivolume work, The War of the Rebellion … The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1880–1901), an invaluable documentary collection that the editors wisely did not attempt to turn into a history, official or otherwise.

Ample material about U.S. military historiography will be found elsewhere in this volume. Here it must suffice to say that, even more than in Britain, military history was regarded as too serious a matter to be left to the military, and even when the U.S. armed forces initiated their massive multivolume surveys of World War II, they employed civilian historians to edit and write them. In both countries the best military history was often written by men of letters who were neither military men nor necessarily academic. For Britain one need only cite Thomas Babington Lord Macaulay's History of England (1858–62), with its account of King William's Wars, continued by his great‐nephew George Macaulay Trevelyan in England Under Queen Anne (1930–34), and the still definitive study of Marlborough, His Life and Times by Winston S. Churchill (1933–34). In the same genre one can cite the works of Francis Parkman on France and England in North America (1865–92). The more general work of George Bancroft and Benjamin Lossing also comes into this category. Academic historians who specialized in the history of war, as did Sir Charles Oman at Oxford with his pioneer studies of war in the Middle Ages and the sixteenth century, were rare, and in universities the study of military history remained marginal.

The most prolific military historians in the early part of the twentieth century, especially in Britain, thus tended to be serving or retired military men; and three of these, Col. G. F. R. Henderson, Col. J. F. C. Fuller, and Capt. B. H. Liddell Hart, were responsible for influential historical studies of the American Civil War. Teaching at the British Staff College at the turn of the century, Henderson focused on the Civil War as the best model for the British military to follow in their future campaigns, and in 1903 published a detailed two‐volume study of the campaigns of Stonewall Jackson to show how small forces skillfully led could defeat larger ones. In 1929, Fuller, as part of a project for devising a new theory of war for the industrial age, published a work on The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant; and the same year Liddell Hart, in vindication of his own theory of “The Indirect Approach,” produced a study of William Tecumseh Sherman. Both these writers, however, were too concerned with promoting their own new approaches to military strategy to write entirely dispassionate appraisals.

After World War II such detailed and didactic analyzes fell out of favor. The scope of that war was too vast to be covered by detailed campaign histories; and although these appeared in plenty from both official and unofficial authors, the planners of both the American and the British official histories arranged to cover political, economic, and social aspects of the war as well. The official German history, Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweiten Weltkrieg, which began to appear in 1979 and is also written by civilian historians, is even more eclectic in its approach. These cooperative projects not only broadened the scope of military history; they introduced the subject to many young professional historians who were later to make it their life study.

It was now that Delbrück was to come into his own. Military history became almost too narrow a term to embrace the expanded studies of war that were written by professional historians after World War II. Seminal was Karl Ritter's four‐volume study of the German military before and during World War I, Staatskunst und Kriegs handwerk (1954–68), which followed Delbrück in placing the history of the German army in its political and social context. Also influential was a new translation of Clausewitz's On War (published by Princeton in 1976), which revived interest not only in Clausewitz's definition of war as a political act, but in his reminder that the conduct of war varies, chameleonlike, with differences in national and regional culture. In Britain and the United States, military historians cooperated with their colleagues in the political and social sciences in joint projects of war studies, strategic studies, war and society studies, and even peace studies. In the disturbed international environment of the Cold War, some of those attracted the support of the armed forces and of private foundations.

Past eras were reexamined to discover, not so much how wars were fought as why they were fought in the way that they were, and how warfare influenced and was influenced by the structure and ideology of the societies that fought them. The work of Geoffrey Parker on Europe in the early seventeenth century, of André Corvisier on France in the ancien régime, of Peter Paret on Prussia in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era, are only a few examples of what was becoming known in the United States as “the New Military History.” The old military history, however, did not fall out of favor, as much of the huge quantity of studies published about the Civil War during and after the centenary of that conflict bears ample witness. Meanwhile, British military historians continue to rake over the embers of the campaigns of World War II in search of relics of their nation's era as a great military power. Recently, however, military historians of various nationalities have been devoting increasing attention to the complex and tragic campaigns of World War I, while writers of American military history have also reexamined the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Military history, in fact, for long an area neglected by professional historians, has now become a nucleus whose splitting and expansion is causing an explosion, the creative potential of which is still far from being exhausted.
[See also: Napoleonic Warfare; War: Nature of War.]

Michael Howard

Disciplinary Views Of War: Peace History Only recently have some historians begun to integrate peace research into scholarship as a legitimate alternative perspective on the past. Previously, to the extent that pacifists, peace advocates, and peace movements were even included in historical monographs and textbooks, they were usually treated negatively—denounced as misguided idealism or even traitorous.

Since the 1960s, however, the number of peace history scholars has grown significantly. The field itself—defined as the historical study of nonviolent efforts for peace and social justice—has become widely recognized, accepted as a subfield of the discipline of history, and as part of a larger multidisciplinary approach known as Peace Studies.

In 1995, the primary professional association, the Peace History Society (PHS; formerly the Conference on Peace Research in History) had nearly 300 members, mainly in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1964 after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the organization grew during the Vietnam War, and again during the international tensions of the late 1970s and early 1980s. An affiliate of the American Historical Association, recognized as a significant nongovernmental organization by the United Nations, the Peace History Society sponsors sessions at the annual conferences of leading historical associations. It also publishes a newsletter and a quarterly journal, Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research.

Peace historians generally see themselves as engaged scholars, involved in the study of peace and war, and in efforts to eliminate or at least restrict armaments, conscription, nuclear proliferation, colonialism, racism, sexism, and war. As a social reform movement, the work of peace historians presents alternatives to the policies they oppose.

Peace history can be classified into three categories. First, conflict management, which involves achieving peace through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, international law, and arms control and disarmament. Second, social reform, which involves changing political and economic structures and traditional ways of thinking. Third, a world order transformation, which incorporates world federation, better economic and environmental relationships, and a common feeling of security.

The discipline's basic focus has been historical analysis of peace and antiwar movements and individuals, international relations, and the causes of war and peace. Two pioneering works in the field were Merle Curti, Peace or War: The American Struggle, 1636–1936 (1936), and Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr., The Civilian and the Military: A History of the American Antimilitarist Tradition (1956).

In the 1960s, a new generation of peace historians, seeking to understand and legitimate past movements for peace and social justice, produced monographs about peace movements and biographies of pacifists and other social activists. Among the pathbreaking works were the 328‐volume reprint series, The Garland Library of War and Peace (1973–75), edited by Charles Chatfield, Blanche Wiesen Cook, and Sandi Cooper
; Peter Brock 's study of religious sectarian views, Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War (1968)
; Sondra R. Herman 's study of peace advocates, Eleven Against War (1969
); Charles Chatfield , For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914–1941 (1971)
; Lawrence S. Wittner , Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement, 1933–1983 (1969, 2nd ed. 1984)
; and the PHS‐sponsored reference work, Biographical Dictionary of Peace Leaders (1985), edited by Harold Josephson

Numerous monographs surveyed the secular and religious peace movements in the United States in the decades between the 1880s and the 1960s. One of the most prolific authors was Charles DeBenedetti. Before his early death, DeBenedetti edited a work about Peace Heroes in Twentieth‐Century America (1986); wrote a synthesis and textbook, The Peace Reform in American History (1980);
and started a study of the Vietnam antiwar movement, An American Ordeal (1990), (completed by Charles Chatfield )
. A memorial conference to DeBenedetti resulted in Melvin Small and William D. Hoover, eds., Give Peace a Chance: Exploring the Vietnam Antiwar Movement (1992)

New subspecialties have appeared in the 1990s, including studies of women and peace, such as Harriet Hyman Alonso , Peace as a Women's Issue (1993)
; and studies of conscientious objection, such as Charles C. Moskos and and John Whiteclay Chambers II , The New Conscientious Objection (1993)

The new frontiers in the field today also include transnational studies such as Lawrence S. Wittner 's trilogy, The Struggle Against the Bomb: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement Through 1953, 3 vols. (1993– )
; the relationship between political culture and peace movements, as in Charles Chatfield and Peter van den Dungen, eds., Peace Movements and Political Cultures (1988)
; and the linking of peace movements with social movement theory, as in Charles Chatfield with and Robert Kleidman , American Peace Movement (1992)

A recent debate, initiated in the January 1995 issue of Peace & Change, involves the degree of influence peace history has had on foreign policy or attitudes toward international relations, and whether peace history should seek greater acceptance and influence within mainstream American history or emphasize a separate, activist ethos.
[See also: Pacifism.]


Blanche Wiesen Cook, ed., Bibliography on Peace Research in History, 1969.
John Whiteclay Chambers II, ed., The Eagle and the Dove: The American Peace Movement and United States Foreign Policy, 1900–1922, 1976; 2nd ed. 1991.
Berenice Carroll, Jane E. Mohraz, and Clinton Fink, eds, Peace and War: Guide to Bibliographies, 1982.
Merle Curti , Reflections on the Genesis and Growth of Peace History, Peace & Change (Spring 1985).
Charles F. Howlett , The American Peace Movement: History and Historiography, 1985.
Charles F. Howlett , The American Peace Movement: References and Resources, 1991.
Charles Chatfield, ed., Peacemaking in American History, OAH Magazine of History (Spring 1994).
Frances Early , A World Without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I, 1997.

Charles F. Howlett

Disciplinary Views Of War: Political Science and International Relations The study of war in the West goes back to the time of Thucydides, who averred that the cause of the Peloponnesian War was “the growth of Athenian power and the fear this caused in Sparta.” The founding of the modern discipline of international relations, however, did not occur until the end of World War I with the endowment of the world's first chair in International Politics at Aberystwyth, Wales. This institutionalization of the field was a result of Wilsonian thinking prevalent at the end of the war that through the use of reason and the spread of education the causes of war could be discovered and eliminated. The rise of Nazi Germany and militaristic Japan led to the collapse of the League of Nations and the emergence of a “realist” school, which criticized the “idealists” for failing to understand and use power. The credit for shifting the field of international relations from idealist advocacy to realist analysis is usually given to Hans J. Morgenthau's Politics Among Nations (1948).

Explanations that emphasize the shifts in power and the struggle for power are the hallmark of the realist school of international relations, which claims Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Carl Von Clausewitz as its forebears. Realists tend to see war as endemic and a natural occurrence with shifts in power often associated with the onset of war. In the contemporary period, Hans J. Morgenthau, Kenneth N. Waltz, and Robert Gilpin represent the most important thinkers of this school, but none of them has a precise explanation of war. Waltz sees the anarchic nature of the international system (the absence of some form of world governing structure) as a “permissive” cause of war, that is, there is nothing in the system to prevent states from resorting to war any time they choose. But what brings about war in any given instance is not specified. Gilpin comes closest to stipulating the conditions that lead to war by maintaining that the largest wars come about when a rising ascendent state challenges the dominant hegemony of the system. However, he sees this as only a necessary condition of war, which means that the sufficient conditions are unspecified. Likewise, his explanation leaves unexplained the vast number of interstate wars that do not involve the two strongest states in the system.

Realist work often tends to support its explanations with argumentation and historical analysis. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the behavioral movement in political science criticized this approach because it tended to “ransack history” by looking for cases that would support its explanations while ignoring evidence that contradicted them. These “behavioralists” wanted to apply the scientific method to the search for the causes of war. They were inspired by the early work of Lewis F. Richardson, who pioneered the use of mathematical models and statistical data analysis to study war and by Quincy Wright, who employed a broad interdisciplinary approach in his seminal study on the causes of war. J. David Singer founded the Correlates of War project and, building on the efforts of Richardson and Wright, began collecting data on war, capability, and alliances in the hopes that empirical research would be able to delineate patterns as a step toward constructing scientific explanations. A number of other researchers developed and tested scientific explanations of war focusing on capability. These included Organski and Kugler's power transition, Modelski and Thompson's long cycle, Charles Doran's power cycle, and Bueno de Mesquita's expected utility models (see Midlarsky, 2000).

Empirical research has produced a number of findings that have not been supportive of simple realist explanations, particularly the notion that a balance of power is associated with peace, or that a disruption of it is associated with war. Singer, Bremer, and Stuckey (in Singer, 1979) find that parity (relative balance) in the international system is associated with a low magnitude of war in the nineteenth century, but with a high magnitude of war in the twentieth century. Neither parity nor a preponderance of power in the system is associated with the complete absence of war. A follow‐up study by Bueno de Mesquita (1981) found no relationship between capability distribution and periods of war or peace in either century. The evidence overall implies that while capability distributions may in certain contexts be associated with wars of high or low magnitude, no particular type of capability distribution is associated with peace. One of the reasons for this, as Bueno de Mesquita points out, is that a balance of power usually implies a fifty‐fifty chance of winning a war, and thus will only inhibit risk‐averse leaders. Later work by Buena de Mesquita and Lalman demonstrates the importance of supplementing power calculations with an analysis of domestic political factors in order to explain the decision to go to war.

Realists often assert that alliance making, because it is usually a result of attempts to balance power, can be a force for peace. The research of Jack Levy (1981) raises questions about this claim since he finds that from 1495 to 1975, with the exception of the nineteenth century, most great power alliances (56 percent to 100 percent) have been followed by war within five years. An even more pernicious effect of alliances uncovered by researchers focusing on the post‐1815 period is that once war breaks out, alliances can act as a contagion mechanism to expand war.

Among the major states, war does not usually break out with the first crisis. Leng (1983) and Brecher and Wilkenfeld (1997) show that as states go from one crisis to the next, the probability of war goes way up. To date, empirical research has found that the crises that escalate tend to have the following characteristics: they are triggered by physical threats to vital issues; they are one in a series of repeated confrontations, with realpolitik tactics becoming more coercive; a hostile interaction spiral emerges; and there is an ongoing arms race.

Of these findings, the most controversial is that linking arms races and crisis escalation, first enunciated by Michael Wallace. Paul Diehl (1983) has questioned the validity and reliability of Wallace's (1982) arms race index and was unable to replicate it. Nevertheless, Diehl's own research shows a relationship between escalation to war and some sort of measure of military buildup and defense burden. Subsequent research by Susan Semple (1997), using Diehl's index shows that, except for where nuclear weapons are present, most disputes occurring in the presence of an ongoing mutual military build up will result in war within five years. She, as with others, also finds that it is extremely rare for disputes in the absence of a military buildup escalate to war.

The findings on alliances, crises, and military buildups have led Vasquez (1993) to argue that power politics itself constitutes a series of steps to war, each of which when taken increases the probability of war between equal states. This suggests that in order to bring about a peaceful system, states must transcend the power politics game and develop ways of making authoritative decisions in the absence of government on some basis other than coercive diplomacy. Research that tries to identify the characteristics of peaceful systems has shown that such systems exhibit efforts to develop a set of “rules of the game” among major states, and embody an acceptance of the pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept) norm in international law. This suggests, contrary to realism, that the world is not always in a constant war of all against all.

Other research shows that war may be confined to states that have a certain kind of relationship or contend over certain types of issues. Research by Russett (1993) and by Ray (1995) has shown that democracies rarely fight each other. This is thought to be a result of domestic constraints placed on democratic governments by their publics and/or that democratic states develop norms in dealing with each other that promote the resolution of conflict without resorting to armed force. This set of findings supports the idea of a liberal peace promulgated by Kant and recently articulated by Michael Doyle.

Such findings raise the possibility that there might be other zones of peace. Most interstate wars are fought between neighbors; in fact, the only wars not fought between neighbors are those involving major states. For some, this finding suggests that states fight primarily over territorial issues (see Hensel, 1996) and that the probability of war is highest when territorial disputes between equals are handled in a power politics fashion. Vasquez predicts that once neighbors settle their border claims, the probability of their fighting will go way down even if other contentious issues arise.

Research on the termination and impact of war has produced clearer findings than those on the causes of war. States with more revenue have won almost 80 percent of their wars, and states that have suffered a lower percentage of battle deaths in proportion to their population have won about 75 percent of their wars. Being both wealthier and having lost a lower percent of population increases the probability of victory to 84 percent. Typically, major states defeated in world wars recover, in terms of economic power, in about fifteen to twenty years. World wars are frequently associated with shifts in global leadership, with third parties sometimes benefiting the most. Domestically, world wars tend to increase the power and size of the state, giving it a permanent increase in its tax revenue and expanding its expenditures ( Rasler and Thompson, 1989).
[See also Disciplinary Views of War: Causes‐of‐War Studies.]


Quincy Wright , A Study of War, 1942.
Lewis F. Richardson , Statistics of Deadly Quarrels, 1960.
David Singer, ed., The Correlates of War, Vols. 1 and 2, 1979, 1980.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita , Risk, Power Distributions, and the Likelihood of War, International Studies Quarterly, 25 (December 1981), pp. 541–68.
Jack S. Levy , Alliance Formation and War Behavior, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 25 (December 1981), pp. 581–613.
Michael D. Wallace , Armaments and Escalation: Two Competing Hypotheses, International Studies Quarterly, 26 (March 1982), pp. 37–56.
Paul F. Diehl , Armaments and Escalation: A Closer Look, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 20, no. 3 (1983), pp. 205–12.
Russell J. Leng , When Will They Ever Learn? Journal of Conflict Resolution, 27 (September 1983), pp. 379–419.
Michael Doyle , Liberalism and World Politics, American Political Science Review, 80 (December 1986), pp. 1151–69.
Karen Rasler and and William R. Thompson , War and State Making, 1989.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and and David Lalman , War and Reason, 1992.
Bruce Russett , Grasping the Democratic Peace, 1993.
John A. Vasquez , The War Puzzle, 1993.
James Lee Ray , Democracy and International Conflict, 1995.
Paul R. Hensel , Charting a Course to Conflict: Territorial Issues and Intersate Conflict, 1816–1992, Conflict Management and Peace Science, 15 (Spring 1996), pp. 43–73.
Michael Brecher and and Jonathan Wilkenfeld , A Study of Crisis, 1997.
Susan G. Semple , Arms Races and Dispute Escalation: Resolving the Debate, Journal of Peace Research, 34 (February 1997), pp. 7–22.
Manus Midlarsky, ed., Handbook of War Studies, 2nd ed., 2000.

John A. Vasquez

Disciplinary Views Of War: Psychology Psychology in the United States became a recognized discipline mainly through work during World War I with the War Department, which needed psychological tests to identify trainable recruits. Work to support American military efforts continued in subsequent decades, particularly during World War II, on such issues as personnel selection, combat training, psychological warfare, and therapy for war‐affected soldiers. After 1945, researchers increasingly analyzed the psychological origins of war. Psychological study of war has expanded recently in part because of the brutality and pervasiveness of ethnopolitical wars, which have powerful emotional dimensions.

Such studies of the origins of war and paths toward peace employ diverse methodologies. Although much research has focused on individual leaders and their decisions, questions have been raised about the accuracy of psychohistorical studies; the limits of retrospective case studies, interview methods, and content analyses of archival documents; the difficulties of extrapolating from laboratory studies and computer simulations to the real world; and the problems of separating individual actors from the multifaceted, institutional context in which they function. To move beyond individual analyses, psychologists have adopted more appropriate strategies of conducting actual field experiments and case studies of groups, or of measuring attitudes and group behavior in situations of armed conflict. Political psychologists have emphasized the need to embed psychological analysis in a multidisciplinary matrix.

Reflecting the “nature‐nurture” controversy that has pervaded psychology, research has examined whether human aggression and war are biologically determined or rooted in learning and political socialization. Studies suggest a universal tendency to separate the in group from the out group and to favor the former while derogating the latter. Some individual aggression and violence stems from genetic factors, although these interact extensively with experiential factors throughout life. Yet little evidence supports the universality of war, as nearly 20 percent of preindustrial societies neither fight wars nor engage in preparations for war.

Controversy exists over the extent to which destructive conflict arises through competition over scarce resources. Henri Tajfel established that destructive conflict also stems from social categorizations that order one's social world and define one's identity and place in society. Social identity theory posits that people strive for a positive identity and compare their in group with relevant out groups, creating status competition that animates conflict. The quest for positive social identity helps to fuel nationalism. These theories may be integrated into a more comprehensive framework, since groups compete both for positive identity and status and for scarce resources. Groups often compete for legitimacy, too, and violence may result when a group's identity needs go unmet. Morton Deutsch has integrated cognitive and social competition processes by establishing that conflicting groups often create a malignant social process characterized by excessive competition, cognitive rigidity, misjudgments and unwitting commitments, self‐fulfilling prophecies, and vicious, escalating spirals.

Socially constructed memories and perceptions also contribute to inter‐group tensions and war. Vamik Volkan noted that unjustly treated groups often enshrine their victimization in chosen traumas that are passed down through generations and that invite future conflict.

Misperceptions contribute to tensions and war. Although real divergences of interest and enmities fuel wars and arms races, biased perceptions often lead to exaggerated fear, hostility, and enmity. In Fearful Warriors, Ralph K. White established that strong fears on both sides during the Cold War created images that portrayed the other as thoroughly diabolical, aggressive, and untrustworthy. Enemy images encouraged the attribution of hostile motives for diverse behaviors, blocked empathy, dehumanized the other, enabled blaming and human rights abrogations, and provided a tool for politicians to stir public fears and rally support for sustained, high levels of military spending. This suggests that it is psychologically advantageous to have enemies, leading people to create enemies even where none exist in reality. When fear and dehumanization are particularly strong, groups may exclude their adversaries from the moral universe, thereby removing restraints that ordinarily limit atrocities. Still, some have criticized White for emphasizing perceptions over hard realities in a Hobbesian environment and for privileging fear over power as the dominant motive behind war.

Diverse processes can skew a leader's decision making particularly under conditions of high stress and uncertainty. Flawed decisions often reflect cognitive limitations, which lead people to use mental heuristics or shortcuts. For example, in the availability strategy, one judges a current situation by comparing it with a well‐established, readily available pattern in memory. Thus, leaders concerned over the appeasement of Adolf Hitler at the Munich Conference and his escalating demands might interpret present crises in terms of that pattern, even if the new case does not actually apply. Because of memory limitations, human beings often function as “cognitive misers,” who oversimplify and draw lessons from history on a highly selective basis.

Robert Jervis, Richard Ned Lebow, and Janice Gross Stein have criticized nuclear deterrence policies by showing that leaders frequently make biased estimates of their adversary's strength, intent, and willingness to fight. However, Philip Tetlock noted that debates about nuclear deterrence are highly speculative since they typically rely on counterfactual arguments such as “What would have happened if event X had or had not occurred?” Much debate continues about whether psychological research is policy‐relevant and when it is legitimate for scientists to advocate particular policies.

The interplay of cognitive and small group processes was emphasized by Irving Janis, who showed how U.S. leaders sometimes succumbed to making flawed decisions (e.g., the Bay of Pigs invasion) due to groupthink—a group process in which there is an illusion of invulnerability, unquestioned belief in the group's morality, censorship of dissent, and premature quest for consensus, among other factors. Although Janis underestimated subtle political influences on decision makers' judgments, he identified significant, preventable sources of bad decisions.

Recently, significant growth has occurred in the nascent field of peace psychology, which seeks to prevent destructive conflict at all levels. Scholar‐practitioners such as Herbert Kelman have pioneered the use of problem‐solving workshops to advance the nonviolent resolution of the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict. Recognizing that victims often become perpetrators of violence, some psychologists have developed interventions for healing psychological wounds of war and for promoting collective forgiveness and reconciliation. Interested readers should consult Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology.
[See also: Enemy, Views of the; Psychological Warfare.]


Henri Tajfel and and John Turner , An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict, in W.G. Austin and S. Worchel, eds., The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, 1979.
Irving Janis , Victims of Groupthink, 1982.
Morton Deutsch , Preventing World War III: A Psychological Perspective, Political Psychology, 3 (1983), pp. 3–31.
Ralph K. White , Fearful Warriors, 1984.
Robert Jervis,, Richard Ned Lebow,, and and Janice Gross Stein , Psychology and Deterrence, 1985.
Ralph K. White, ed., Psychology and the Prevention of Nuclear War, 1986.
Steven Kull , Minds at War: Nuclear Reality and the Inner Conflicts of Defense Policymakers, 1988.
Philip E. Tetlock,, Charles B. McGuire,, and and Gregory Mitchell , Psychological Perspectives on Nuclear Deterrence, Annual Review of Psychology, 1991.
Herbert H. Blumberg and
Christopher C. French , Peace Abstracts of the Psychological and Behavioral Literature 1967–1990, 1992.
Herbert H. Kelman , The Interactive Problem‐Solving Approach, in Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall, eds., Managing Global Chaos, 1996, pp. 501–20.
Vamik Volkan , Bloodlines, 1997.

Michael Wessells

Disciplinary Views Of War: Society Studies Although war is one of the most important human social activities, the study of war in its social context has remained marginal to both sociology and war studies. Sociology has tended to treat war as an abnormal intrusion into the regularities of social life, rather than a major social institution in its own right. War studies have tended to focus on political, military‐strategic, and technological aspects more than on the social or cultural aspects of war.

War and society represents an interdisciplinary area with diverse inputs, and the body of theory is diffuse in origin. Classic strategic thought contains important sociological insights, notably in Carl von Clausewitz's presentation of war as a type of social action with a distinct logic centering on the mobilization of aggression and violence. He saw war as a unique means of pursuing political goals, but also as analogous to commerce—war is produced in the social organization of men and weapons, which have to be tested in battle rather as the value of commodities has to be realized in the marketplace.

Few social theorists have followed Clausewitz in addressing the character of war as a social activity. Rare exceptions include the Marxian approach of Mary Kaldor , in her study of the oversophistication of Western military technology, The Baroque Arsenal (1982)
, and Martin Shaw 's Dialectics of War (1988)
. More orthodox Marxists have tended to reduce war to its political and economic context—looking for social causes—rather than understanding the peculiarities of the kind of social action that war involves. Major sociological theorists of the late twentieth century, such as Theda Skocpol , States and Revolutions (1979)
, Anthony Giddens , The Nation‐State and Violence (1985)
, and Michael Mann , The Sources of Social Power (1986 and 1993)
, have also followed this trend by addressing the role of war in the development of states, rather than the nature of armed violence.

More empirically, the field of military sociology has examined military organizations as social institutions. Originating in sociological and psychological studies during World War II, this field burgeoned from the 1960s as Western militaries began the transition from mass armies to an All‐Volunteer force, with such seminal works as Morris Janowitz 's The Professional Soldier (1961)
and Jacques van Doorn 's The Soldier and Social Change (1975)
. Military sociology is institutionalized in an international network, the Inter‐University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, which promotes institutionally focused comparative research. It deals less with issues of the wider influence of military values in society, explored for example, in Shaw 's Post‐Military Society (1991)

The majority of war and society studies are historical in character. A few major synthetic social histories, such as William H. MacNeill 's The Pursuit of Power (1982)
, have demonstrated the relationships between military organization and weaponry and social, economic, and political change over the modern period as a whole. Some military historians, such as Michael Howard, have written about war in a way that emphasizes its social contexts. Rarely, sociologists have also applied their theoretical insights to past conflicts, as in Tony Ashworth 's Trench Warfare 1914–18: The Live‐and‐Let‐Live System (1982).

Most historical work is by social historians specializing in a particular period, and concerned with the social effects rather than the causes of war. The largest number of works concerns the two world wars, especially World War II. A central concern is the role of war in causing or accelerating socioeconomic transformations. In a series of works including War and Social Change (1974), Arthur Marwick
has made a wide‐ranging and influential exploration of these relationships. More specialist authors have addressed particular issues such as propaganda, media and culture, and the changes in the status of women and ethnic minorities through participation in war. Feminist historians have particularly contested the assertion of a positive relationship between war and social change, in respect of gender roles.

This assertion is, in any case, a culturally specific notion, strongly linked to experiences of war in societies like America and Britain that were victorious and uninvaded in both global conflicts. Other experiences of world war—notably in Continental Europe and East and Southeast Asia—were manifestly more disastrous for social groups and entire national societies. The links between total war and genocide, not only in the politically calculated mass murders of the Nazis and others but also in the technological mass killings of strategic and atomic bombing, bring into question many of the assumptions in studies based on Anglo‐American experiences.

A similar problem is manifest in the general absence of studies of post‐1945 conflicts. Because these wars have occurred mainly in the so‐called Third World and outside advanced Western countries, less academic attention has been devoted to relationships between war and social change here. During the Cold War period, distant conflicts were mainly of interest for their strategic relevance to the central world division.

Since 1989, it has become evident that wars, in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union as well as in Africa, concern complex ethnic, religious, and other social divisions as well as the rivalries of political and military elites. The relationship between war and genocide has once more come to the fore. The role of mass media—not only as propaganda machines in combatant states, but as sources of critical information propelling Western states and the United Nations into action—has been the subject of numerous studies. This reflects the central fact that for Western societies, wars are no longer arenas of mass mobilization and direct participation, but mediated experiences.

With the end of the Cold War, therefore, military studies and international relations have partially shifted their focus from strategic and weapons‐related issues to the broader social and political context of armed conflict. In this sense, a broadly sociological approach has become more widely influential. The more disciplinary based sociological or sociohistorical study of war, however, remains concentrated on past conflicts and has yet to show much of its relevance to contemporary wars.
[See also: Bombing of Civilians; Gender; Gender and War; Propaganda and Public Relations, Government; Society and War.]

Martin Shaw

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