Productive clerks: White-collar productivism and state-building in Palestine's Jewish community, 1920-1950

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Abstract

Jewish clerks during the Zionist state-building period were intensively engaged in the social construction of productivity, and in turning the latter into a mechanism of social restraint. The clerks' productivism and concern with social utility was manifested in the reproduction of accepted Zionist physiocratic and constructivist notions of productivity, as a strategy in the politics of status; in the modernist transformation of the understanding of productivity to suit their own occupational terminology; in the prescription of the necessary qualities of the productive clerk; and in realization of these discursive campaigns in the practice of labor relations. These manifestations challenge a simplistic approach to the dissemination of the language of productivity as either a one-sided nationalist socialization, or a straightforward managerial strategy of control. Based on primary archival sources of the clerks and their union this paper argues instead that they reflected the intertwining of national attitudes with from-below advancement of group interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-218
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Review of Social History
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997

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