How Important is Compulsory Military Service in the Opinion of Conscripts? Influencers and Change of Ratings During the Service Period


  • Anet Müürsoo




importance of compulsory military service, compulsory military service, attitudes, attitude change


The aim of this study is to find out what conscripts think about compulsory military service, if their attitude changes during the service period, and if so, what the possible influencers are. The theory part of this article describes the relation between values and attitudes and how they are connected to ratings and human behaviour. In addition, the article looks at how changeable attitudes (and through that also the ratings) can be and what might affect this. Furthermore, the article includes a summary from previous studies about the attitudes of Estonians towards compulsory military service. The quantitative research method is used in the analysis part of this article. Two main questions were analysed: “In your opinion, how important is conscription for the security of Estonia?” and “In your opinion, how important is conscription for your personal development?” Based on those two questions, a total identifier was used to analyze changes in attitude. The results show that the attitudes of conscripts towards the importance of military service can change during the time they serve. For approximately one third of the soldiers who entered compulsory military service in 2016, the attitudes about the importance of conscription changed during the service period. There is no certain propensity in which direction the attitudes changed. It is remarkable that during the analysis it was impossible to distinguish any social groups whose attitudes about military service were more likely to change. It was found that compared to conscripts whose mother tongue is Russian, Estonian native speakers are more likely to think that military service is necessary throughout their whole time in service. It can also be pointed out that the attitude of those who entered conscription voluntarily changes only somewhat, meaning that after the Soldier’s Basic Course (SBC) they still think that conscription is important for their personal development or for national security. The results also showed that the change of attitudes towards the importance of compulsory military service can be better explained through defence-themed attitudes that the soldiers had developed after completing the SBC. The main tendency is that the more positively conscripts regard defence-themed attitudes (importance of foreign missions and the level of skills needed to protect Estonia in case of foreign aggression), the more likely it is that they do not find compulsory military service to be unnecessary. Important influencers are also the factors of coming to the military service with a positive attitude and being willing to serve even if it was not mandatory. A positive attitude correlates with a better attitude towards the importance of compulsory military service.


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