The Politics of Cooptation: The Kibbutz Movements’ “Gender Equality Departments”.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Sylvie BIJAOUI, College of Management Academic Studies, Israel
The kibbutz is a collective, democratic, socialist-inspired form of settlement that grew out of the Jewish national movement in Palestine., at the very beginning of the 20th century. As with (some) other voluntary forms, of association that were influenced by socialist visions of utopia, the promise of gender equality emerged as a fundamental principle in this collective community-but was not fulfilled. As a consequence, the historical unequal gender order was historically reproduced.

In this paper, I use the concept of cooptation – the formalized inclusion of challengers into the authority system they are challenging so as to neutralize them (Selznick, 1949 )- to analyze the institutional role of the kibbutz movement’s “Equality Departments” founded by kibbutz feminist activists and functioning at different times, from the 1980’s until now.

Retaining a dynamic approach to Selznick ‘s classical definition, I first point to the fact that in the long run, as demonstrated in recent scholarship (Couto 1988; Body-Gendrot, Carré and Garbaye 2008; Prilleltensky 2014; Korteweg, 2017), cooptation, can transform the power structure and further economic redistribution and/or cultural recognition and/or political representation.

In the second part of my work, on the basis of documents and of interviews, with the heads of the Equality Departments, conducted between 2011 and 2015, I apply this dynamic approach to the feminist sections.

In the third part of my research, I map alternative possible scripts for the actual cooptation process, in the kibbutz

My conclusion relates to the possible joint futures between co-optation, social justice and social change in diverse socio-political contexts.