Women in Black: Challenging Israel’s Gender and Socio-Political Orders


Helman, Sara, and Tamar Rapoport. 1997. “Women in Black: Challenging Israel’s Gender and Socio-Political Orders.” British Journal of Sociology 48 (4): 681-700.

Authors: Sara Helman, Tamar Rapoport


The Israeli protest movement 'Women in Black' is studied by focusing on the movement's mode of protest, which is used as a prism through which to analyse the manner in which the structure, contents and goals of protest challenge the socio-political and gender orders. The article analyses the protest vigil of 'Women in Black' in Jerusalem, and characterizes it, following Handelman (1990), as a minimalist public event. After examining and analysing the sources of minimalism it was concluded that minimalism was the result of two social processes attendantat the formation of 'Women in Black' as a social movement: personal interpretation of the political field, and avoidance of ideological deliberation amongst the participants. The minimalism of the public event preserved the movement for six years and created a collective identity that emphasized the symbolic difference between those within the demonstration and those outside it. This difference was symbolized by a juxtaposition of opposites. The essence of opposites is analysed by means of 'thick description', i.e., by deciphering them in the context of Israeli society. The study concluded that the mode of protest of 'Women in Black' has created a symbolic space in which a new type of political woman is enacted. This identity challenges established socio-cultural categories Israel.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Political Participation Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 1997

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