STATUS, POWER, AND INFLUENCE OF WOMEN IN AN ARAB VILLAGE IN ISRAEL (MUSLIM, RURAL, MIDDLE EAST, NEAR EAST)
The major purpose of this dissertation is to test the following hypothesis: Societies in which women are excluded from formal structures and processes of status, authority and power develop informal sources of influence and esteem through which they affect the society's decisions. This study concludes that the formal/informal dichotomy and other concepts which separate the "public" from the "private" and formal roles from actual behavior have limited explanatory power. This thesis offers a universally applicable model of a comprehensive case study approach and focuses on a Muslim Arab village in northern Israel. We examine a rapidly changing, cross-pressured, discriminated minority attempting to reconcile "traditional" and "modern" gender roles. Research sources include 24-months of participant-observation between 1977-1985, life histories, students' essays, interviews, scholarly literature and documents. Part I presents the total physical and social context which has shaped the village and shows what its history means to villagers. It locates in the hands of the state the preponderance of control over resources, rewards and sanctions which condition villagers' options. Part II examines social dynamics--power and authority structures, social control and cohesion mechanisms, individual and group strategies for influencing decisions. It also assesses the relative social standing of each sex and considers satisfaction levels. Part III highlights contraception, education and employment. This thesis concludes that villagers evaluate themselves and each other by the performance of gender roles within the family, kinship-friendship circle and community. There is considerable joint family decision-making and women have substantial authority in the household. Within the elemental family, the primary social unit today, women can feel efficacious. Women's networks perform solidarity, information and labor exchange functions but they are neither compensatory nor the major means of woman's influence. The widespread use of reliable contraception has greatly benefited women. Within the confines of the geo-political and cultural settings, men have greater rights, choices and prestige. Considerable discontent exists among females over male prerogatives in marriage-making, secondary education, employment, physical mobility and clothing styles. Adult women feel secure, productive and satisfied as mothers, wives, homemakers, family members and villagers.
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