more details to the project: Belonging to the Outsider and Established Groupings: Palestinians and Israelis in Various Figurations
In the historical context of Israelis and Palestinians, the same individuals often interact in a number of social and local contexts as members of groupings of ethno-political or religious outsiders and in other contexts as members of established groupings. For example: a Christian Palestinian Israeli who lives in a village in Israel with a Christian Palestinian majority is a member of the minority of non-Jews when she is interacting with a Jewish Israeli in all social settings in Israel. But in her village, when interacting with a Muslim, she is a member of the village majority. However, in another local context in Israel with a majority of Muslims, she is a member of the Christian minority within the grouping of Palestinian Israelis, which is again a minority among the citizens of Israel. In the West Bank, she would be a member of a minority within the grouping of Palestinians who constitute the majority of the citizens in the West Bank. Such a list could be extended further (e.g. Bedouins, the Druze community and the various Christian and Islamic denominations) and this reveals the complexity of the relations of interaction within this field of research.
In addition, the research statement will question the influence different and multiple memberships in various pairs of established-outsider figurations have on the structures of social interaction between minority and majority members. Therefore, we aim at a careful and sensitive analysis of the everyday dimension of social and political conflicts in the Middle East – which also does justice to individual cases. The project will focus on subjective perspectives and biographies of individual agents. This offers a chance to reveal possibilities of conflict resolution and conflict transformation in an everyday context and from the subjective perspectives of the individuals involved.
The research questions refer to the micro level and the macro level of the social relations of minority and majority members in the various settings:
On the level of social interaction we expect to get answers to the following questions: What are the constitutive factors of observable interactions between members of the outsiders and the established? Is there an impact of these different and multiple memberships in various pairs of established and outsiders on the structures of social interaction between majority and minority members? Which kinds of conflict may be observed? Are there indications for a constructive transformation of patterns of interaction and disagreement? What are the hindering or supporting factors for changes of the present form of conflictive process? Put differently, which biographical constellations and situational contexts offer chances for an incipient softening of rigid patterns of interaction?
Concerning the experiences of the participants we would like, among other things, to gain insight into the following questions: What are the participants' specific experiences in social interactions with members of the respective established or outsider groupings? To what extent and in which ways have these experiences changed over their lifetime? To what extent and in which ways have these experiences led to the establishment of a more favorable or more unfavorable image of the Others?
Regarding the perception of the participants in the field of research, the following research questions should be considered: How do members of the respective outsider-established figuration perceive patterns of social relations with members of complimentary or other groupings? In particular, we intend to find out how they experience the collective identity, identity structures and acculturation tendencies of members of other groupings in different settings. Additionally, how do members of a minority/majority perceive their collective narrative and how do they perceive the narrative of the "Other" within the established-outsider-figuration and how do they respond emotionally towards it? We are also interested in how members of the minority/majority-grouping perceive possibilities for conflict management and the role they could possibly play in changing the reality of the conflict. Furthermore, we would like to examine the individuals' experiences of their role in altering the reality of the conflict.
To answer these multiple research questions that touch so many different social levels, the project demands a methodical and differentiated approach. Hence, the triangulation of methods contains the conduct and analysis of biographical narrative interviews as well as of thematically focused narrative interviews with Jews, Muslims and Christians. It also includes participant observation in various cities and regions (Nazareth, Nazareth Illit, Haifa, Jaffa, Beer Sheva, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem), microscopic analyses of visual data based on video recordings of encounters between established and outsiders, and culture-specific questionnaires (n=1700) which will be based on qualitative analyses.
Using the qualitative approach, we may attain insights into both the interrelations of different belongings in specific biographical constellations, social situations and the tacit knowledge (cf. Polanyi, 1966) of individuals. Using quantitative data will open up possibilities to study besides non-quantifiable aspects measurable transformations of the investigated local established-outsider figurations as well measurable sub-aspects of this transformation.
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