Contractors in Iraq: Exploited Class or Exclusive Club?

Ori Swed, Daniel Burland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Corporate privatization of security has generated a neoliberal iteration of an old profession: the private military contractor. This development has revolutionized security policies across the globe while reviving old patterns of inequality. Following neoliberal logic, outsourcing fosters two types of employment: the exploitative and the exclusive. The first refers to low-status individuals hired en masse to perform menial labor; the second refers to experts who perform functions central to the employer’s mission. We contribute to this discussion by focusing on the qualifications of a different subsample of this industry: American contractors who died while performing military and security functions in Iraq. We assert that such American employees directly engaged in mission-essential combat and security functions better fit the employment category of an exclusive, expert sector at the core of the private military industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • civil–military relations
  • expert workforce
  • post-Fordist
  • precarious employment
  • private military and security contractors
  • privatization
  • veterans


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