Open Access

Saying no to military service – obligation, killing and inequality as experienced problems in conscription-based military in Finland


While studying citizen-soldiers, their dual identity as a soldier and a civilian have been highlighted. A citizen-soldier’s role is linked to citizenship and its obligation. The dual identity or critical voices of conscription or reserve forces have neither been recognized in research nor been debated publicly in Finland. The aim of this article is to analyse the reasons why some conscripts raise critical voices concerning their relationship with conscription and their role as reservists. The study is based on the interviews of 38 non-military service men and 33 men who resigned from the reserve in 2017. The data was analysed using content analysis. According to the results, the main problems with regard to conscription and armed defence, among the conscripts, relate to inequality of the conscription system, obligation to serve and lack of discretion. For individual conscripts as citizen-soldiers, the problem of killing has special weight when they reflect upon their own role in the possible act of war. Conscripts and their expertise could be used more extensively in a wider range of security-related issues than in armed defence alone.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
History, Topics in History, Military History, Social Sciences, Political Science, Military Policy