Contractors in Iraq Exploited Class or Exclusive Club?

Ori Swed, Daniel Burland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Privatization of war created a new profession: the private military contractor. This new development revolutionized security policies across the globe, while reviving old patterns of inequality. Widespread military privatization fosters two types of employment. The first is exploitative: low-status individuals are hired in large numbers to perform menial labor. The second focuses on hiring experts who are able to organize and carry out combat operations that the employer could not accomplish without them. Scholarly discussion of the military contractor workforce does not offer a clear picture of these work relations, but instead tends to describe an exploitative industry, a characterization that overlooks the industry's highly compensated sector of experts. We contribute to the discussion by using an original dataset to examine the qualifications of American and British contractors who died in Iraq. Given the private management of military contracting firms, demographic data about
Original languageEnglish
JournalArmed Forces and Society
StatePublished - 2020


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