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Conflicting Articulations of Citizenship under a Neoliberal State Project: The Contested Implementation of the Israeli Workfare Programme

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This paper examines the Israeli workfare programme as a neoliberal state project and its contested implications for Israeli citizenship. Israeli workfare attempted to reconfigure the relations between state, market and beneficiaries of Income Support Allowance by redefining their duties of citizenship as independent, self-sufficient providers. Using private case managers and employment coaches, the state urged them to comply with the imperative of labour market participation as the principal duty of Israeli citizenship. This paper focuses on emerging street-level relations between privatized agents of reform, who enforced the new civic duty, and programme participants, who resisted this new imposed ‘social contract’, and insisted that the state maintain some social responsibility. By analysing these mundane negotiations regarding the duties of citizenship under a neoliberal state project, this paper suggests that entrenched legacies of citizenship may be utilized to resist the compulsion of market citizenship.
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Keywords: Israel; citizenship; neoliberalism; street level relations; workfare

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Anthropology,Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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