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Social Science and Public Policy

War from the Ground Up

November 18, 2019 at 12:00pm1:30pm EST

Eggers Hall, 341

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Hein Goemans, Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Rochester

Why are citizens willing to sacrifice for their homeland? An essential fact of warfare in the modern era is that individual citizens are called upon to contribute to the war effort. The willingness of citizens to sacrifice and fight for the homeland presents an especially important problem since territorial conflict is the deadliest form of international conflict. Why then are citizens willing to sacrifice, fight and die for their homeland? In the vast literature on war, this question is completely ignored. To answer it, I first ask and answer a series of additional critical questions: Why are individuals willing to fight for homeland territory, but not for other territory? How do individuals know what constitutes their homeland? Why does it matter? To what extent are leaders constrained by their citizens’ conceptions of the homeland? The answers to these questions hopefully fit together to not only explain why citizens are willing to sacrifice for their homeland, but together form the basis for an individual-level theory of international conflict.

This event was published on November 1, 2019.

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