The Nexus of Elites and War Mobilization: An Empirical Investigation

This workshop will be held using Zoom. Details will be sent once registered.

Elites often draw on social networks to mobilize citizens to participate in conflicts. However,
it is challenging to elucidate the role of elite networks due to the difficulty of measurement. It
is even more difficult to further investigate how mobilization affects the elites after the conflict,
as mobilization may be endogenous to elite networks. We highlight the nexus of elites and
war mobilization by studying a context that helps address these challenges. Our setting is the
Hunan Army – a standing army organized by one Hunanese scholar-general from an existing local
militia to repress the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864). We construct comprehensive datasets to
depict the elites in the general’s pre-war network, measure soldier deaths, and characterize
the career of the elites in the network pre and post the war. A two-way nexus of elites and war
mobilization emerges from our analyses: (i) elites used their personal networks for mobilization,
and (ii) mobilization benefited the elites and elevated them to the national political stage.

Written with Ying Bai (CUHK), Ruixue Jia (UCSD) and Jiaojiao Yang (CUHK)