State ethnicization and the crisis of leadership succession among Israel's Druze

Hillel Frisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


States often ethnicize ethnic groups for their own purposes. In doing so, however, they unleash contradictory processes. While the state facilitates the integration of individuals into modern state structures on the basis of personal achievement, it will also traditionalize collective identity by promoting a recognized leader or headman. Over time ethnic reformers will challenge such state ethnicization and attempt to organize the community to achieve more autonomy, using state legislation to achieve these reforms. Paradoxically, this attempt, if successful, will not only encroach upon state power but also curtail the choice of the individual in the ethnic group to define his or her own ethnicity. The following article analyses the Israeli Druze's relationship to the State of Israel and the controversy among the Druze over the group's international organization. It analyses at what point state ethnicization gives way to ethnic autonomy at the expense of state power, and explores its implications on the development of civil society within the ethnic community. The diminution of state ethnicization in a democracy need not necessarily entail the empowerment of the ethnic group but rather the individual who belongs to it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-593
Number of pages14
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Civil society
  • Druze
  • Israel
  • State ethnicization
  • Succession


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