Shifts in traditional methods of coping among elderly bedouin men

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Elderly Bedouin men in southern Israel are a unique traditional population living in remote unrecognized villages and experiencing rapid social transition, in addition to deep poverty and political tension. In this study, we aimed to explore stressful events, as self-defined by the participants, and the ways in which these men have coped with those stressful events. This study involved 12 men, aged 69–74, who participated in in-depth narrative interviews during which they were asked about transformative stressful events in their lives and how they had managed, understood, and utilized human capital, meaning-making, and other methods of coping. Analysis of the interviews revealed several themes: (a) the definition of stressful events within the cultural context, (b) the use of human capital to overcome those events, (c) the transformation of experience from hindsight into a didactic narrative that can be used to assign meaning to past events, which can then be passed on to the next generation, and (d) cultural transition as a catalyst for the creation of new understandings of events. This paper sheds new light on how elderly indigenous Bedouin men self-define stressful situations within a complex and unstable cultural context. This specific context, can help us to gain insight into how indigenous impoverished older men in similar contexts may self-define their stress and coping, based on the types of generalization accepted in qualitative research. The methodological contribution of this work lies in its use of narrative to culturally contextualize phenomenological meaning structures. Its theoretical contribution lies in its examination of the concept of stress within a specific cultural context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Bedouins
  • Coping
  • Culture
  • Elderly
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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