Working-class Palestinian mothers in Israel: agency, habitus, and maternal responsibility

Sinyal Athamneh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mothers are perceived as responsible for both their children’s complementary education and their emotional well-being, a social construction that challenges the perception of maternal responsibility among working-class Palestinian mothers in Israel in their effort to function appropriately in the face of three power structures: the school system, welfare policies, and the family. This study reveals how working-class Palestinian mothers in Israel negotiate these three axes by exploring their actions as a form of agency from a specific cultural and class perspective, based on the concept of habitus as a theoretical framework that makes possible an examination of mothers’ personal experience as an integral part of the dimension of social class. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 working-class Palestinian mothers. The findings indicate that mothers’ agency enables change within the spaces of institutionalized structures such as school and welfare services but is limited to directing change in the cultural patriarchal structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-506
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Agency
  • emotional capital
  • habitus
  • maternal responsibility
  • respectability
  • working class


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