A knock on the door: Managing death in the Israeli defense forces

Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi*, Eyal Ben-Ari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper discusses death that occurs within organizations through an analysis of how deaths of soldiers are handled by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). While such deaths challenge the military's organizational order and legitimacy, the IDF handles them through the institution of a "moving bureaucracy": a combination of fixed administrative procedures and intense emotional work carried out by liminal military personnel (reserve officers). This arrangement enables the military to construct a highly controlled "buffer zone" around the deceased soldier's family, and thus to reconstitute its organizational order and the IDF legitimacy. The army as a palpable organization "reappears" on the scene, but that reappearance is gradual and takes place only after the funeral, when death is certain and finalized.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)391-411
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


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