Rebecca L. Schiff

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Rebecca L. Schiff (born January 11, 1963) is a scholar of military studies and a professional fundraiser. She is best known for her concordance theory of civil-military relations. Concordance theory revises conventional approaches to civil-military relations that argue for the separation of a country’s civil and military institutions to prevent domestic military interventions such as coup d'état. Schiff's concordance theory does not preclude separation as a condition for concordance but offers it as one alternative among many, ranging from complete separation to full integration of a country’s military and society establishments.


Schiff was born on January 11, 1963 in San Diego, Calif. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif. and earned both her master’s (Social Science) and Ph.D. (Political Science) from the University of Chicago. Currently, Schiff serves as associate editor of the academic journal Armed Forces & Society and is a council member of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society. She has held visiting professorships at the University of Michigan and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is currently an adjunct professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

In addition to her academic career, Schiff has held institutional advancement and development positions at Harvard University, University of Michigan and Brandeis University. Her areas of development expertise include major gifts, corporate and foundation relations, alumni giving and annual giving.

Schiff has also been an active supporter of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) communities. She has held national board positions for the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).[1]

Theoretical contributions[edit]

Concordance theory[edit]

One critical question in civil-military relations theory is how to determine the conditions under which the military will intervene in the domestic politics of the nation. Many scholars agree with the theory of objective civilian control of the military (Samuel P. Huntington), which focuses on the separation of civil and military institutions. This view relies heavily on the U.S. case, from an institutional perspective, during the post-World War II period. Schiff provides an alternative theory, from both institutional and cultural perspectives, that explains the U.S. case as well as several non-U.S. civil-military relations case studies. Concordance theory does not preclude a separation between the civilian and military worlds; but it does not require such a condition to exist. Schiff argues that three partners – the military, political elites and citizenry – should aim for agreement among four primary indicators:

  1. Social composition of the officer corps
  2. The political decision-making process
  3. The method of recruiting military personnel
  4. The style of the military

If agreement occurs among the three partners with respect to the four indicators, domestic military intervention is less likely to occur. In her book, The Military and Domestic Politics, Schiff applies concordance theory to five cases studies: U.S. Post-Revolutionary Period (1790–1800); Israel (1980–90); Argentina (1945–55); India (post-Independence and the 1980s); and Pakistan (1958–69).[2]

Schiff’s concordance theory was first introduced in her 1995 article "Civil-Military Relations Reconsidered: A Theory of Concordance" published in Armed Forces & Society. The 2009 publication of her book The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations offers a more comprehensive examination of her theory among several national contexts. Schiff's approach is considered both timely and an important advancement in the field of civil-military relations by such scholars as Charles Moskos and John Allen Williams.[3][4]

The Military and Domestic Politics also examines how concordance theory has evolved from the field of military studies to “corporate concordance,” which focuses on the military-industrial complex. It suggests that many corporations have now shifted their priorities from building arms and military technology to corporate philanthropy and social responsibility.[5]

Targeted partnerships[edit]

Schiff’s current policy work focuses on applying concordance theory to counter-insurgency strategy. Her most recent work is "Concordance Theory, Targeted Partnership and Counterinsurgency Strategy." The essay critiques the "normal theory" of civil-military relations and introduces the new concept of “targeted partnership” which is a distillate form of concordance theory or agreement involving reciprocity between the military, the political elites and society for a limited period of time to accomplish a very specific objective. Targeted partnerships allows the military to interact effectively with policy makers and other military personnel on critical issues, such as counter-insurgency strategy, without breaching a nation's broad standard for civil-military relations.


  • "Concordance Theory, Targeted Partnership, and Counterinsurgency Strategy," Published online before print, Armed Forces & Society, July 20, 2011 0095327X11415491*
  • The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Routledge Press, 2009), ISBN 0-415-54919-1
  • "From Military Professionalism to Coup d’etat: Concordance Theory in India and Pakistan," in Giuseppe Caforio (ed.) and Manas Chatterji (series ed.), Advances in Military Sociology: Essays in Honor of Charles Moskos (United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing, 2009), ISBN 1-84855-890-2
  • "The Military and Domestic Politics." Book presentation for the European Research Group on Military and Society (ERGOMAS), Swedish National Defense College (Stockholm: June 2009)
  • "Concordance Theory in Argentina: Juan Peron Era – a Case of Discordance." Paper presented at American Political Science Association Conference (Washington, D.C.: September 2005)
  • "Concordance Theory: The Cases of India and Pakistan", in David Mares (ed.), Civil-Military Relations: Building Democracy and Regional Security In Latin America, Southern Asia, and Central Europe (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press–Division of Harper Collins, 1998), ISBN 0-8133-2422-X
  • "The Indian Military and Nation-Building: Institutional and Cultural Concordance," in John P. Lovell and David Albright (eds.), To Sheathe the Sword: Civil-Military Relations in the Quest for Democracy (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1997), ISBN 0-313-30037-2
  • "Civil-Military Relations Reconsidered: A Theory of Concordance", Armed Forces & Society 22 (Fall 1995): 7–24


  1. ^ Fenway Health (2006): "Women's Dinner Party", accessed March 14, 2010
  2. ^ JMSS Editorial Board Member Launches Her New Book. Biztekian Vision (May–Aug 2009): 22.
  3. ^ Moskos, Charles C. The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Routledge Press, 2009).
  4. ^ Williams, John A. The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Routledge Press, 2009).
  5. ^ JMSS Editorial Board Member Launches Her New Book. Biztekian Vision (May–Aug 2009): 22.

Other resources[edit]

  • Schiff, Rebecca L. "Concordance Theory: Response to Recent Criticism", Armed Forces & Society 23 (Winter 1996): 277–83.
  • Schiff, Rebecca L. "Civil-Military Relations Reconsidered: Israel as an Uncivil State", Security Studies 1:636–38.
  • Wells, Richard S. "The Theory of Concordance in Civil-Military Relations: A Commentary", Armed Forces & Society 23 (Winter 1996): 269–75.

External links[edit]