Between familism and neoliberalism: the case of Jewish Israeli grandmothers

Nitza Berkovitch, Shlomit Manor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this article, we employ grandmothers’ childcare as a lens to explore the changing relations between familism, individualism and neoliberalism. More generally, we examine the connections between the political economy and the intimate moral economy of childcare work performed by grandmothers. Based on semi-structured in-depth interviews with twenty retired women in Israel, we examine how they negotiate, comply and resist the expectations that they will help ‘fill in’ the ‘care deficit’ resulting from neoliberal policies and labour market practices. We show how grandmothers navigate between family ideologies and individualistic cultural imperatives, constituting themselves as agentive subjects who can determine the conditions in which they meet their families’ care expectations while challenging the invisibility of their work. Thus, using Israel as a case study, we argue that familism and individualism, working against each other as well as together, create tensions while mediating the political economy and the intimate moral economy based on the love, commitment and ideology of the ‘good mother’. More broadly, we assert that neoliberalism strengthens family and familism and, at the same time, familism facilitates the neoliberal labour market and economy while also freeing the state from having to support families with children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminist Theory
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022


  • Childcare work
  • familism
  • grandmothers
  • individualism
  • neoliberalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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