Shades of Universality: Variation of Performances in the Glocalized Israeli Human Rights Discourse

Ben Bornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Discursive variations of human rights are typically examined in a cross-national comparison, while usually referring to local arenas as homogeneous particularistic spaces confronting glocal uniform performances of human rights. Using a comparative analysis of six paradigmatic altruistic Israeli nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and critically reviewing globalization and human rights literature, this study challenges the cross-national-oriented studies and the common analysis of human rights in local settings as a monolithic phenomenon. By mapping the Israeli organizational field of human rights, the study reveals substantial variations in terms of glocal identity, which allow the creation of an analytical framework for contextualizing local diversity. This diversity, as this paper shows, includes distinct models of human rights activities, which were mostly absent or dismissed as inauthentic in research thus far. The paper discusses the importance of future awareness of intranational variations, and the potential contribution this may have to the sociological understanding of current human rights institutions. Finally, the paper concludes by raising awareness to liberal normative assumptions in research, which may lead to the exclusion of alternative social phenomena from inquiry, especially in the case of moral discourses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-431
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Israel-Palestine
  • glocalization
  • human rights organizations
  • intranational comparison
  • world society


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