Gender relations in Bedouin communities in Israel: local government as a site of ambivalent modernity

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12 Scopus citations


In this article, we examine the perceptions towards women and gender relations maintained by male, local authority officials within two Bedouin towns in Israel. As such, the current research lies at the intersection of local politics, gender, space and culture. We argue that analysis of these perspectives provides insights into the ambivalent nature of modernity: into the tension between the desire to preserve the traditional role of women in maintaining the family, and the recognition of the powerful potential of women to act as agents of change. Based on an analysis of personal interviews, the study traces the ways in which both power and vulnerability impact the attitudes and perspectives of these men officials. By applying narrative analysis, gendered power structures are examined within Bedouin society in the context of the local authority–zooming in on the narratives provided by the male authority officials. The findings reveal that the officials maintain a series of ambivalent and conflictual attitudes towards the role of women. Bearing in mind their potential impact on the quality of women's daily lives in local public spaces, it seems vitally important to account for the entire matrix of tensions and vulnerabilities that impact the municipal policy instruments at their disposal. The findings are relevant beyond the Bedouin communities in Israel and may serve as a platform for a wider discussion of the dilemmas of minority women in rapidly changing cultural environments, and ambivalent modernity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-51
Number of pages22
JournalGender, Place, and Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • Bedouin community
  • local government
  • minority men
  • minority women
  • modernity
  • narrative analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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