The Long Road Home: Conceptual Debates on Recruitment Experiences and Reintegration Outcomes

Alpaslan Ozerdem, Sukanya Podder

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This volume is about the important processes involved in young people’s participation in civil conflict. It seeks to define the trajectories of children’s lives in war zones, and highlights the inter-linkages, connections and mediated impacts of recruitment into rebel groups, in-group socialization, training and indoctrination. In particular, the authors show how these can influence post conflict return and reintegration outcomes for youth who live through conflict. Immersion into the fighter’s world is an important disjuncture in the ‘normal’ prewar life of children who become part of armed groups. On account of children’s incomplete socialization and maturation process within family settings, in-group experiences are important processual influences which impact on young minds, involving elements of identity transformation, and rebirth into the world of being a rebel or child soldier. Relationships within these groups with commanders and peers create a semblance of regularity and stability in a world where every moment is insecure. Children adopt new norms and ways of life in the fighting world with little resistance, developing deep loyalty for commanders who maltreated and abused them, in a radical inversion of values. Irrespective of whether recruits enter an armed organization with homogeneous or disparate norms and beliefs, socialization processes after induction provide the glue for group cohesion, reorienting cultural norms and beliefs through a mix of violence, submission and selective incentives. Rebel groups vary in their socialization practices, from using mass killing, ceremonial induction, ritualistic initiation to gang rape, to reinforce the public image of ‘rebel’ as a killer, as destructive and dissociated from the norms of community in which these small soldiers grew up as children.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationChild Soldiers
    Subtitle of host publicationFrom Recruitment to Reintegration
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages27
    ISBN (Electronic)9780230342927
    ISBN (Print)9781349317622
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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