Sacrifice as Social Capital among Israeli Conscientious Objectors

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This article considers counterhegemonic sacrifices as a means of social intervention, and in doing so explores the social efficacy of non-ritual sacrifice in the modern era. Ethnographically, this article examines the way Israeli conscientious objectors succeed in having their refusal of military service and the social costs they incur understood as sacrifices by the Israeli public. Ex-soldiers accumulate social capital in light of public perception that they have 'paid the price' for their beliefs. Other ethnographic contexts that further elucidate the ability of socially abject to use sacrifice to counterhegemonic effect are presented. I claim that the recognition of sacrifice depends on an intersubjective combination of sacrificial intention and community recognition. This article suggests that the meaning of sacrifice is determined by how sacrifice is used and understood in social context, and as such breaks ranks with literatures on sacrifice concerned with the intrinsic coherence of ritual sacrifice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-405
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Sacrifice
  • hegemony
  • intentionality
  • social recognition
  • sovereignty


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