Just like democracy: Ethnography of real-politic in a city of immigrants

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The goal of this paper is to open a new space for understanding political culture “after orientalism,” in polycultural, liberal societies. Relying on three years of ethnographic research (2001–04) at the Likud party chapter in the immigrant city of Ashdod, I present an ethnography of citizenship in action. I argue that at the point where citizenship as an ideal type meets immigrants from developing countries, people mimic and utilize citizenship as a way to support their social mobility. Ideology becomes ID-ology and stands in the center of a new political culture that is neither Occidental nor Oriental.
This new culture of citizenship is formed in three stages: first, the immigrants adopt and approve the Occidental perception of citizenship that fits the Occidental imagination of citizenship; second, the Likud party members distinguish between form and content, loading the “appropriate” definition of citizenship with new content and new ways of interpretation that promote their purpose of socially mobilizing themselves and taking over positions of power; and third, new political cultures of citizenship occupy the city hall. The new citizenship resembles Occidental citizenship, but uses a different toolbox for power accumulation and new methods of interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-91
JournalJournal of Levantine Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


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