Arab football in Israel as an 'integrative enclave'

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Over the last two decades, football (soccer) has become a major institution within the popular culture of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. The centrality of football has given different identity agents opportunities to impose different meanings on the sport, depending on the agents' definitions of collective identity. This article utilizes ethnographic observation in the football stadium and coverage by Arab and Hebrew sports media to illustrate and analyse this battle over meaning. The Hebrew sports media, the Arab sports press, and the Arab audience are three different agents that attach divergent meanings to the notable presence of Arab players in the Israeli football leagues. The article argues that the overlapping interests of the Hebrew sports media on the one hand and the Arab football fans, players, and bureaucrats on the other lead to the construction of the football sphere as an integrative enclave in the general Israeli public sphere. The article considers the relevance of Gramsci's theory of hegemony to explain the production of the integrative meaning of football, and it suggests integrating this explanation with other recent theories regarding the tensions between different discourses of citizenship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-450
Number of pages29
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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