After finishing my dissertation research, I want to continue and deepen my work on the effect of Winning Coalition Support on conscription. The most obvious step is to add more cases and different sources of data to my qualitative projects. For my work on the Levels of Winning Coalition Support, that means finding other sources or including another case. Ideally, it would be a country that is either just now opening itself up to the idea of increasing Winning Coalition Support, e.g., South Korea, or one that will have to deal with it once threats subside, e.g., Ukraine. For my research on the salience of Conscientious Objection, I could extend my sources to include other newspapers or publications made by the government. Additionally, I could refine the measurements for my key concepts in these two papers to improve the quality of my analysis and findings.
Second, I would like to put my newly developed interest in and skills for text analysis software to the test. These tools are a great way to process large amounts of text in a reasonable amount of time. Thus, they would be ideal for investigating parliamentary minutes, legal texts, or social media to get a better understanding of how countries think about Conscientious Objection, Alternative Civilian Service, or conscription. The current situation in Ukraine and its effects on security perceptions in the European Union would be an excellent target for such an inquiry. Several states that ended conscription in the past are now debating whether they should introduce or intensify conscription again. Even Germany, which suspended the draft in 2010, has discussions appear every now and then. These might not be too serious, but they could still offer an insight into how Winning Coalition Support is articulated and influenced.
Third, I would like to dive deeper into my chosen field of Civil-Military Relations. My dissertation exclusively focused on the relationship and interactions between the government and society. Even though the main element of this back-and-forth relates to the military, i.e., how it can recruit its soldiers, the armed forces do not have a voice in the process. Consequently, there would be a benefit in focusing on how the military is influencing the support of the Winning Coalition and the leaders. This could be established by analyzing media campaigns or press releases that the armed forces initiate or publish. It will allow me to identify if there is any influence, which direction it goes, and what the motives behind it are. The results would not only be insightful for my research agenda but also for Civil-Military Relations in general.
Fourth, it would be worthwhile to investigate the relationship between the leaders, the public, and the media. Right now, I only use the latter as a mirror of Levels of Winning Coalition Support and as an indicator for salience. This relegates the media to a role that does not do it justice. An analysis of media outlets (print, digital, TV) with different ideological backgrounds and how they portray conscription, Conscientious Objection, and Alternative Civilian Service could offer insights into whether and how they influence the process of establishing Winning Coalition Support.
Fifth, since my project mainly focuses on countries with a large Winning Coalition Size, I could examine how states with smaller Winning Coalitions ensure their support. The theory proposes that it should happen in the form of private goods but gaining an actual empirical idea would shed some light on this black box. An appealing case for this would be Turkey which does not tolerate Conscientious Objection but allows unwilling draftees to pay their way out of conscription. Examining media publications that happened around the time of the decision to let recruits forgo military service this way would provide critical insights into how authoritarian governments establish Winning Coalition Support.
Lastly, as a more permanent early to mid-career project, I want to expand on my dataset and work on the status of Conscientious Objection globally. As a start, I could update the existing set with cases that happened after my cutoff year of 1998. This should not be a problem since my primary source, i.e., War Resisters’ International, has some entries for select countries ranging up to the late 2010s. Furthermore, I can improve the quality of data by adding information from the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection's yearly reports or publications from the United Nations Human Rights Office. Additionally, I could gather alternative indicators for regime type, such as Freedom House’s Democracy index. This would allow me to get at the missing part of democracy that is not fully captured by polity scores. As mentioned in a previous paper, I would like to develop my own survey and conduct it in countries with Conscientious Objection and Alternative Civilian Service to properly gauge the levels of Winning Coalition Support. This could result in new variables for my dataset, such as Level of W, Attitude Towards Conscription and CO/ACS, Likelihood of CO Adoption, or, following Max Margulies’ recent publication on "Foreign Determinants of Military Recruitment Policies," Outside Influence on CO (2021, 354).
In a best-case scenario, working on this dataset would enable me to collaborate with a variety of other scholars or organizations. For one, there is a potential to combine my data with existing sets on the determinants of conscription, such as Asal, Conrad, and Toronto’s (2015). Moreover, there is potential that either the United Nations, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, or War Resisters’ International would want to link up. They already provide excellent reports. Quantifying them would make them even more appealing to researchers, policymakers, and the public.