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Book Reviews 113 Sharkansky admirably avoids the temptations of partisan labeling and criticism. Nevertheless, readers with partisan predilections-as well as those without-will find much food for thought in this excellent book. Frank Tachau Department of Political Science University of Illinois at Chicago Crises and Transformation: The Kibbutz at Century's End, by Eliezer Ben-Rafael. Albany: State University ofNew York Press, 1997. 282 pp. $21.95. I have recently had the pleasure ofreading Eliezer Ben-Rafael's valuable work, Crises and Transformation: The Kibbutz at Century's End. It is a significant and timely contribution to the body of literature focusing on the evolutionary nature of this most unique form ofcollective living. What makes his work particularly notable is the careful and comprehensive integration of a broad cross-section ofthe social sciences, including sociology, philosophy, and economics, to cite just a few. The vast and complete scope of the bibliography will certainly help those just beginning their foray into kibbutz studies as well as those more experienced in the field. Ben-Rafael's book is the outgrowth of a study funded by Takam (The Unified Kibbutz Movement) with the purpose ofinvestigating the state ofthe kibbutz movement as it has evolved from "a well-defined social structure into what is best understood as a culture." The book is divided into eight sections in which Ben-Rafael discusses many broad and complex philosophical issues such as "identity," "community," and "education." He offers historical insights and cites diverse interpretations and views along the way and in so doing brings realism and life to many theoretical positions. He does not shy away from criticizing evolving trends and ideas when appropriate but retains an appreciation and indeed an admiration for the concept of "kibbutz" in spite of the many attitudinal changes that have occurred within the movement since the founding of Daganya in 1910. I was particularly interested in Ben-Rafael's analysis of kibbutz identity, egoism, and elitism. Here he notes that "Kibbutzniks have aspired to prestige in society as a confirmation of their self image as carriers of values of general significance." He appears to caution that there may be a tendency for the kibbutz leadership to use positions ofpower for their own political benefit rather than for the overall well-being of the particular kibbutz or perpetuation oftraditionally accepted kibbutz values. In this connection, he draws meaningful parallels between changing modes of operation and attitudes within the kibbutz and the changes in overall Israeli society. 114 SHOFAR Summer 1999 Vol. 17, No.4 Another area of interest to this reader is his discussion of the inherent ideological problems that have emerged as the kibbutz has "gone capitalist." Now a whole series ofcontradictions have emerged. For example, Ben-Rafaelvery correctly notes that there had always been a reluctance to hire workers from the outside to provide farm labor. Now, faced with large landholdings, kibbutzim can no longer only rely on unpaid internal sources of labor. The problems, ideological and practical, that have emerged are not easily dealt with. For perhaps the fIrst time, kibbutzim are now viewed by some as exploiters of the low-paid fIeld laborers hired from nearby towns. The criticism has been intense from both inside and out and creates a good deal of discomfIture among many traditional kibbutzniks. In a later section ofhis work, Ben-Rafael investigates the nature ofchange found within kibbutz society. He notes that rapid and unrestrained change is not characteristic ofall kibbutzim. Pointedly, he fmds that kibbutzim "tend to evolve according to specifIc preferences" rather than resulting from distinct kibbutz styles or political orientations. Fundamentally, it is his view that economic factors have a signifIcant impact on the kibbutz's orientation toward the process ofchange. In conclusion, Ben-Rafael's work represents a major contribution. It is not easily read and suffers from inadequate editing, but it still reflects brilliance and fertile thinking and meticulous reporting and analysis. I fInd no signifIcant omissions. BenRafael has masterfully accomplished what he set out to do, and that is to integrate previous kibbutz studies and update us as to the evolutionary nature of this unique experiment. His statistical reporting and analysis is abundant and clearly presented...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 113-114
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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