Over the past several decades, welfare states across the developed Western world, including Israel, have adopted differential employment policies for disadvantaged marginal populations that perform poorly in the labor market and are underrepresented in it. The intensive and rapid shift from Keynesian welfare policy to a more economical and efficient neoliberal approach sparked great turbulence in Israel's labor market, leaving broad swaths of the country's marginal populations outside of the capitalistic post-scarcity economy. In this article, we examine third-sector initiatives and governmental employment policies aimed at integrating and advancing Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) in the Israeli labor market. We also explore the tension between welfare, with its associated benefits and governmental assistance mechanisms, and the neoliberal approach, with its reliance on economic efficiency tests. The article looks at how the Haredi sector's labor market integration process has evolved. We aim to understand parallel developments between the processes outlined by the state and the Haredi community's socioeconomic needs under a neoliberal regime that prizes competition, achievement, and materialism–a regime in which social institutions are being reshaped, adjusted, and disciplined in accordance with market-oriented principles. We will examine the forces working behind the scenes to integrate Haredim in the economy and in society as a whole–the top-down policy forces striving to increase Israeli economic output, and the bottom-up internal-civic forces that want to create normative and economically feasible alternatives to the Haredi “society of learners” that developed under welfare-state auspices. The article seeks to answer three main questions in light of the aforementioned processes: How did the shift from a Keynesian welfare state to state workfare contribute to Haredi integration in the Israeli employment market? Who were the key political-social-economic actors and forces that shaped the process of Haredi labor market integration? And finally: how has neoliberal employment policy affected the Haredi community on the gender, spatial (center-periphery), class, and community planes, i.e., has this policy approach helped strengthen the Haredi middle class, and if so, how?.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Political Science and International Relations