Organizers for Social Change in Israel: Diversity and Similarity

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The proliferation of social change NGOs have been a source of concern to some scholars. They warn that these may be signs of "tribalism" and "Ghetto mentality" which may split a democratic society into self-interest groups estranged from each other. However, our research of organizers for social change indicates that their diverse and separate causes do not necessarily promote separatism, but rather reflect a common democratic value system. Our sample consisted of 49 experienced organizers - 33 women, 16 men, Jews, Arabs, immigrants, Born in Israel, secular, religious, young and aged. They were chosen to represent the diversity of the Israeli organizing sphere and its concerns. They expressed these diversities in their narratives of action and recruitment. However, alongside they also expressed significant similarities. The most striking similarity was in their visions of change and the personal and social values these visions reflected. The common vision of a just and inclusive society expressed by most of our interviewees may indicate that NGOs for social change strengthen democratic society rather then undermine it. The common values expressed by leaders who use legitimate democratic mechanisms (such as organizing, protesting etc.) may constitute the "Social Umbrella" under which the differences in needs and habits of diverse cultural communities can be expressed. This might be the essence of participative democratic society.


Keywords: Organizers for Social Change, Diversity, Similarity
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Dorit Barak

Lecturer, School of Social Work and Social Welfare, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel

Born in Israel in 1949. B.A. in Behavior Sciences, MSSW & Ph.D in Social Work. Practiced community work; Was the director of planning and research in the Department of Social Services in the Municipality of Jerusalem. Since 1987 is a lecturer and researcher in the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Her current research interests include empowerment of people with disabilities; Grassroots organizations for social change. In the past ten years has been active in the establishment of a social movement of people with disabilities in Israel (as a consultant. Consults voluntarily various social groups on planning, design and capacity building.

Dr. Elisheva Sadan

Senior teacher, School of Social Work and Social Welfare, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel

Born in Poland in 1947. Israeli citizen since 1950. B.A. & M.A. in Social Work, D.Sc. in Urban planning. Until 1994 practicing community social work; Since 1994 a Senior teacher and Head of the Community Practice Track at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Review Editor of 'Social Security', The Journal of Welfare and Social Security Studies (In Heberw). Selected publications: Empowerment and Community Planning: Theory and Practice of People-Focused Social Solutions. Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad (1997); Participation: Your way to make a difference. Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad. (2003) (with Arza Churchman). Public participation in environmental design and planning. (Pp. 793-800). In C. Spielberger (Ed.). Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology. Oxford: Elsevier (2004) (with Arza Churchman). Issues in intervention with battered women in collectivist societies: An essay. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.(in press) (with Muhammad Haj-Yahia) . Current research projects: Organizers for social change (with Dorit Barak). Power and Control in the Practice of Child Protection Officers: Child Protection Officers' and Parents' Points of View (with Hanna Simkin).

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