Strangers in Paradise
Israeli Kibbutz Experience
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The literature on the Kibbutz is large and sprawling. This stands in marked contrast to the intimacy and proximity of the individuals who have actually participated in the life of the Kibbutz. In this quite remarkable work, David Mittelberg succeeds in capturing the specific life styles and aspirations of the Kibbutzniks. And he does so by integrating this within the broad and rich traditions of the sociology of culture and religion.Strangers in Paradise provides a massive amount of current data on Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers, division of labor by sex and language of origins, demographic characteristics of Kibbutz hosts and recruits, and a variety of attitude measures far beyond any other work in the literature. But what gives special value to this effort is its unusual utilization of the phenomenological tradition - from Simmel to Schutz, to Berger and Luckmann - along with recent efforts in organization and negotiation theory - from Blau to Goffman - in order to explicate this massive data.A special element in this volume is the central place accorded to voluntarism in an open culture. For Mittelberg, membership in the Kibbutz is at its core a voluntary act of individuals who commit their lives, or a portion thereof, to a collective movement in a strange land. This is a study then in "intentional communities" rather than Utopian organizations. The synthesis of the concrete and the abstract, the empirical and the theoretical, will establish Mittelberg's volume as a new standard in Kibbutz studies.