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The Renewal of the Kibbutz

From Reform to Transformation

Raymond Russell

Publication Year: 2013

We think of the kibbutz as a place for communal living and working. Members work, reside, and eat together, and share income “from each according to ability, to each according to need.” But in the late 1980s the kibbutzim decided that they needed to change. Reforms—moderate at first—were put in place. Members could work outside of the organization, but wages went to the collective. Apartments could be expanded, but housing remained kibbutz-owned. In 1995, change accelerated. Kibbutzim began to pay salaries based on the market value of a member’s work. As a result of such changes, the “renewed” kibbutz emerged. By 2010, 75 percent of Israel’s 248 non-religious kibbutzim fit into this new category.

This book explores the waves of reforms since 1990. Looking through the lens of organizational theories that predict how open or closed a group will be to change, the authors find that less successful kibbutzim were most receptive to reform, and reforms then spread through imitation from the economically weaker kibbutzim to the strong.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. vii-5


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pp. ix-6

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pp. xi-xii

This volume is the result of more than two decades of research. In the course of assembling the information presented here, we have accumulated debts to a large number of people....

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Introduction. Perspectives on Change in the Kibbuutzim

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pp. 1-11

Since soon after their first appearance in Jewish Palestine in 1910, the collective rural settlements that later came to be known as “kibbutzim” have attracted international interest. At first, observers noted their unusually democratic and communal structures and practices. Although the land that...

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Chapter 1. Development of the Kibbutzim

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pp. 12-37

In this chapter we describe the kibbutzim as they were at the opening of the period 1990 through 2010, and review how they came to assume that form. We divide relevant information about the nature and history of the kibbutzim into two parts. The first part relates the unique circumstances...

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Chapter 2. From Crisis to Reform, 1985– 2001

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pp. 39-68

By the 1980s, Israel’s kibbutzim differed in many ways from what they had been in the pre-state period. Most kibbutz members now worked outside of agriculture, in increasingly diverse tasks. They now slept in familybased households. The trees and plants growing on many kibbutzim were...

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Chapter 3. Consideration and Adoption of Innovations, 1990– 2001

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pp. 69-81

In chapter 2 we documented the spread of innovations through the population of kibbutzim. Although some innovations enjoyed wide acceptance, others were introduced in only small numbers of kibbutzim. In this chapter, we shift from the question of which changes were accepted, to the...

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Chapter 4. Transformation of the Kibbutzim, 1995– 2011

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pp. 82-95

As we have shown in chapters 2 and 3, most kibbutzim made only modest reforms in the 1990s, and made even those changes with great hesitation. The great majority of kibbutzim introduced changes that did not violate traditional definitions of the kibbutzim codified in national laws...

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Chapter 5. From Transformation to Renewal

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pp. 96-124

By the early years of the new century, kibbutzim that paid differential salaries to members were becoming more numerous than kibbutzim that continued to base household budgets on need. The kibbutzim that made this change had clearly been greatly transformed by it, but what they had...

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Appendix. Date Sources and Statistical Analytics

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pp. 125-166

In several chapters we present quantitative portraits of the process and consequences of innovation in the kibbutzim. The purpose of this appendix is to provide documentation of the samples and data used in our statistical analyses, and to explain the approaches we used in analyzing...


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pp. 167-173


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pp. 175-179

About the Authors

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pp. 180-188

E-ISBN-13: 9780813560779
E-ISBN-10: 0813560772
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813560762

Page Count: 196
Illustrations: 20 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013