State-society relations in Israel : an analysis and application of Migdal's state-society theory

Joel S. Migdal’s work is centered on power through domination, how it is established, achieved and maintained. Migdal argues that the state is a fragmented structure that competes for power against a multitude of social organizations making up society. This allows for a system by which various aspects of the state are in contact with various aspects of society. As a result, these incidents of competition and contact allow both the state and society to transform and shape each other. However, in this study I argue that although Migdal’s work is a major contribution to the field of comparative politics, the case I will be using in my study is an exception to Migdal’s state-in-society thesis. By applying Migdal’s model to the Israeli state and the Israeli Arab community, I argue that the Israeli state is an exception to Migdal’s thesis that the state-society divide is penetrable. Although the Israeli state has been able to influence the Israeli Arab community, the Israeli Arab community has not been able to penetrate and transform the state. I close this thesis with a speculative analysis of the impact of a Migdalian state-society relation in Israel on the various attempts at peace in the larger issue of the decades long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. I