Modernization and subordination: Arab women in the Israeli labour-force

Noah Lewin-epstein*, Moshe Semyonov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the patterns of economic integration of Arab women in Israel. Specifically, it examines the extent to which development, as well as cultural and structural constraints, affect labour-force participation and gender-linked occupational differentiation of women who belong to an ethnic minority which is both culturally traditional, and socially and politically subordinate. A comparative analysis is carried out across 42 major communities in which Arabs reside. First, we study the effect of local labour-market structure and social composition on labour-force participation. The findings reveal that female employment tends to increase with the size of the agricultural sector, and to decrease with limited labour-market opportunities. Employment is additionally affected by social and cultural factors such as fertility and religious affiliation. Further analysis examines gender-linked occupational differentiation. We find that occupational differentiation in the Arab labour-force is substantial, with women generally holding the more prestigious and higher status occupations. Differentiation and the occupational advantage of women is strongly related to female labour-force participation. As the proportion of employed women rises, more women are channelled into manual and service jobs and their occupational advantage diminishes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1992


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