Center versus Periphery in the Kibbutz Movement

3 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2009

Date Written: June 5, 2009


Peripherally located kibbutzim belonged to major social movements which were the cutting edge of Zionism and brought about its success, while centrally located inter-kibbutz Federative Organizations (Herafter: FOs) dominated kibbutzim because of oligarchization that was greatly enhanced by their move to central locations. Kibbutz research failed to untangle this oligarchization, as it intentionally ignored FO use of conformist individualistic practices of surrounding urban capitalist culture that empowered their heads and elites and eventually ruined kibbutz egalitarian, collectivistic and democratic cultures. This choice of practices was not inherent to centrality of FOs but rather a choice of their leaders who were transformational at first but became conservative with success. Centrality and location in major urban capitalist organizational cultures helped FO anti-kibbutz practices and leaders’ half century continuation in offices that served their dominance well but ruined kibbutz cultures and frustrated hundreds of thousands who exited. However, the innovativeness of kibbutzim was suppressed only gradually due to its peripheral location that enabled some innovators to create new solutions to problems in accord with their radical culture without loyalists of the leaders suppressing them, bringing about successes in many other kibbutzim which emulated these solutions. This explains the successes of the 1960s-1970s period, but these successes did not stop innovators suppression by powerful conservative FO heads and functionaries; innovators were sidetracked and left and without them the kibbutz culture was gradually ruined up to the mid-1980s crisis, and abandoned by most kibbutzim thereafter.

Keywords: center, periphery, kibbutz movements, federative organizations, leadership, hegemony

JEL Classification: N65, O31, O40, P31, P32, R11, Z10

Suggested Citation

Shapira, Reuven, Center versus Periphery in the Kibbutz Movement (June 5, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Reuven Shapira (Contact Author)

Western Galilee College ( email )

P.O. Box 2125
Gan Shmuel, Mobile Post Hefer
Acre, North 24121
972542209003 (Phone)
97246320327 (Fax)


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