Charles Moskos Prize

The Prize is named in honor of Charles C. Moskos, PhD, beloved mentor, friend, and former
President/Chair of IUS. This Prize will inspire future generations of civil-military relations
scholars by recognizing, promoting, and rewarding annually the best article published by an
emerging scholar in Armed Forces & Society.


  • Article must be a full-length scholarly work; book reviews, commentary, etc., are not eligible.
  • Article must be published in Armed Forces & Society via OnlineFirst in a calendar year (e.g., The
    2020 Prize awarded in 2021 is for articles published between January 1 and December 31, 2020).
  • Articles may be sole-authored or co-authored by a maximum of two early career scholars.
  • Author(s) must be early career on the date of OnlineFirst publication:
    • Academic status may be a current student or PostDoc;
    • Academic rank may be no higher than Assistant Professor/Lecturer without tenure; or
    • Non-academy affiliated scholar(s) in an early career stage.


  • Cash award of $500
  • Commemorative plaque
  • Winning article permanently available free access by SAGE
  • Permanent recognition on SAGE’s Armed Forces & Society website


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Moskos Prize Winners


We are pleased to announce Dr. Edward Gonzalez as the winner of the 2023 Moskos Award for his article "Adjudicating Competing Theories: Does Civilian Control over the Military Decrease Conflict?"

This article addresses a central question for the political sociology of the military: are states in which civilian leadership has more control over the military less likely to initiate wars than states where the military has greater say over foreign policy? This article has an impressive agenda. Edward Gonzalez seeks to adjudicate between two competing theories about the impact of civilian control on the propensity to use force, “civilian conservatism” (civilian control leads to less war) and “military conservatism” (civilian control leads to more war). In addition, he uses his larger data sets for hypothesis testing. He employs a sophisticated approach, using Poisson regression models and the established, widely regarded MID4 dataset on international conflict. His results run against the grain of current thinking on the consequences of civilian control for the propensity of states to use force at a time of decreasing regional stability. Gonzalez performs diligent robustness checks on his coefficients and provides prudent caveats to quantitative conclusions on the data, some of which may be addressed through broader social science research, including detailed case studies and normative analysis. Our author makes sense of his counterintuitive findings and shows the continuing relevance of “military conservatism” theory on the use of force, a theory that, perhaps too soon, has faded from scholarly interest. In this remarkable article, Edward Gonzalez advances the state of our knowledge on the relationship between civilian control, military involvement in national security decision making, and the causes of war.

Dr. Edward Gonzalez earned his PhD in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Southern California in 2023, with a focus on International Security. His dissertation examines the puzzle of nuclear reversals: why some states that were pursuing nuclear bombs decided to reverse course and terminate their nuclear ambitions. His dissertation advances a novel two-pathway theory of nuclear reversals, examining how the use/threat of force and international norms, respectively, influence states to terminate nuclear weapons pursuit. In addition to studying nuclear politics, Dr. Gonzalez is interested in international conflict and war. Currently, he is collaborating in a book project and research articles with the Near Crisis Project, a multi-university collaborative project studying near crisis events, particularly exploring why some disputes escalate into international crises while others do not. Dr. Gonzalez will be working as a visiting lecturer for the Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) program at New York University for the 2023-2024 academic year. Prior to USC, he earned a Master of Arts in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach in 2015 and a BA in Political Science from California State University, Dominguez Hills in 2012.

The task of finding the winner fell to the selection committee, composed of Professor Damon Coletta (United States Air Force Academy), Professor Yagil Levy (The Open University of Israel), and Professor Pascal Vennesson (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore) (Chair). We appreciate their hard work and dedication.


We are happy to announce Dr. Matthew Cancian as the 2022 winner of the Charles Moskos Prize for his article “The Motivation to Enlist Among Kurds.”

Dr. Cancian’s article, addresses theoretically and empirically a central question in military sociology: why individuals join armed forces. The author seeks to assess the degree to which Charles Moskos’s classical analytical framework on motivation to enlist “travels” to other contexts, here Kurdish fighters engaged in the fight against ISIS, thereby encouraging comparative perspectives in military sociology. He provides a nuanced answer: Moskos’s model is useful but incomplete. To better take into account the specific context of the recruitment of Kurdish fighters, he combines a new category – the desire for revenge – to the classic occupational and institutional motivations to join. The award committee found particularly stimulating and fruitful the paper’s effort to explore a classical theme such as enlistment in the non-state context of a war-fighting militia. This helps to explain motivations to join under unique conditions, very different from typical Western militaries. Moreover, Kurdish recruitment is of high interest to Western armed forces seeking allies in the fight against ISIS and beyond. Lastly, the paper is grounded in a fascinating empirical enquiry under difficult, ongoing war condition. It is the result of a fruitful cooperation with local researchers as well as local Kurdish commanders. In sum, the paper makes an important contribution to the study of nonstate warfare from a sociological perspective.

Dr. Cancian studies military operations at the Naval War College as a contractor for Saalex Solutions. He received his PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2022, where he concentrated in Security Studies and Comparative Politics. His thesis was about the motivations of combatants and the effects of training, based on a survey of 2,301 Kurdish fighters (Peshmerga) during their war against the Islamic State. He is interested in adding new, data-driven perspectives to all questions pertaining to security studies. Before MIT he earned a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School and a BA in History from the University of Virginia. Between those educational experiences he served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Sangin, Afghanistan as a Forward Observer in 2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

We want to thank the selection committee, composed of Professor Damon Coletta (United States Air Force Academy), Professor Yagil Levy (The Open University of Israel), and Professor Pascal Vennesson (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore) (Chair).



We are happy to announce Dr. Demet Yalcin Mousseau as the inaugural winner of the Charles Moskos Prize for her article "Does Foreign Development Aid Trigger Ethnic War in Developing States?". The selection committee, composed of Professor Damon Coletta (United States Air Force Academy), Professor Yagil Levy (The Open University of Israel), and Professor Pascal Vennesson (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore) (Chair), were unanimous in their decision.

This innovative article addresses a significant and enduring issue: in a post-pandemic world, neither foreign development aid, nor ethnic conflict are going away. The paper creatively addresses a scholarly gap: the impact of developmental aid on ethnic war, not merely on civil wars in general and other manifestations of state instability previously covered by the literature.

Dr. Mousseau combines several methods in a sophisticated way. She conducted a case study to comprehend to what extent and how foreign aid reshapes domestic politics in developing states, and conducted a large quantitative study as well. The piece features a creative and rigorous treatment of existing data to parse previous murky results on civil war and clarify the relationship between development aid and ethnic violence

Moreover, the author bravely challenges the conventional wisdom. Foreign aid is, and should be, inherently designed to improve domestic stability and, ultimately, favor development. However, it may have the unintended consequence of destabilizing inter-ethnic relations in some countries and thus may become a dangerous cause of war. This insightful, counterintuitive conclusion has immediate policy implications and should help design better foreign development aid.

Dr. Demet Mousseau is an Assistant Professor at University of Central Florida, School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs.