Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

The growth of conscript militaries was integral to the creation of civil rights in European nation-states, which established militaries as a key site of claims-making. However, the United States military has diverged from these models, and most cases of inclusion or integration of social groups are not directly connected with claims-making. What has influenced the U.S. military’s responsiveness to pressures, both internal and external, and how has this changed over time? I employ a comparative historical approach to three cases—African-Americans, women, and non-heterosexuals—to unpack the U.S. military as a state institution and a site of claims-making. By incorporating elements unique to American institutions into existing models of militaries, I find that the U.S. military has become increasingly vulnerable to domestic political, international political, internal economic, and internal and external cultural pressures since the World War period. Despite its enormous economic and physical strength, the U.S. military is more responsive now than ever before to internal and external demands.

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