1. The 2011 Protests as a Global Social MovementWith PhD student Sarah Gpldberg
Funded by the Glass Balaban Foundation (25,000 NIS)
The research has two objectives: (a) To explore and explain the process that carried citizens to the streets in the global social protests of 2011; (b) to contribute to the theory of social movements. The theory of social movements is divided into several schools of thought, each explaining some part of the relevant subject; this research intends to achieve a more comprehensive explanation of the phenomenon by integrating the insights of several strains of social movement research into an original model.
The research is designed to answer the following questions:
(1) What explains the occurrence of the protests in 2011?
(2) What explains the similarities and differences among the protests in different countries?
(3) What was the function of cities – cities’ people and cities’ spaces – in the protests of 2011?
The 2011 protests spread around the globe and reached more than 1,000 cities in 80 countries. As this is a doctoral research with limited resources of time and money, a decision was made to investigate in depth only two countries: The protest of J-14 or social justice protest in Israel – about 0.5 million participants out of 7.5 million citizens; and the Occupy Wall Street protest in the US – estimated 100,000 participants out of 310 million citizens. In each country the focus will be on the protest events in the city that is the economic and cultural capital of the country: Tel Aviv in Israel and New York in USA.
The main sources of data for the research include:
- Scientific publications – books, refereed articles and research reports on social movements and on the 2011 protests, with particular attention to publications about the two selected cases.
- Data collected by international bodies –by the UN, EU, ILO (International Labor Organization) and OECD.
- Traditional media – at least two national newspapers will be selected for in-depth research of their coverage of the protests, probably: Ha’aretz and Yediot Aharonot in Israel; New York Times and USA Today in the United States.
- Documents written by the protesters and published on their internet sites, activists’ blogs, distributed handouts and the like.
- Partly structured interviews with experts – in each of the selected countries several interviews will be conducted with scholars who have studied the 2011 protests in their country.
- In-depth interviews with protest leaders, about 12 in each of the two selected countries.
2. Studentification in Peripheral Communities in Israel: Socio-Spatial Relationships between College Students and Local Residents With MSc student Chen Naor
Funded by the Council of Higher Education in Israel through the Social Hub at the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning in the Technion (15,000 NIS)
The term studentification describes social, cultural, economic and environmental changes that occur in a residential area as a result of a substantial presence of students who rent places to live in the private housing market, not far from their academic institution. The phenomenon was identified at the beginning of the twenty-first century in Great Britain, following conflicts that erupted between local residents and students in many university towns. Since then, research on this topic has steadily developed in many countries, but not in Israel, in spite of the growing numbers of students and colleges.
This research examines the phenomenon in the Israeli context and focuses on the geographical periphery of the country, specifically in the regions of Sapir College in the Northwestern Negev and Tel-Hai College in the Upper Galilee. The purpose of the study is to determine whether the presence of students in the region constitutes a ‘blessing’ for the residents, or is it a source of difficulties and conflicts. The study’s goals are: (a) to characterize the students and their residences in the areas of the colleges, while distinguishing between town and the rural communities in each region; (b) to examine the relations between students and local residents; and (c) to identify the implications of the students’ residences on their socio-spatial environment.
Since this is a pioneering study on the topic, a flexible research design was needed. It includes a variety of instruments: analysis of available statistical data; questionnaires filled by students and statistical analysis; observations; interviews and conversations with local residents and leaders; and telephone interviews with local officials.
The findings show that many students prefer living in rural communities located near the towns of Kiriyat Shemona and Sderot, in spite of their distance from the colleges. The implications associated with the students’ living arrangements in the different communities are mainly positive, a result which differs from findings in international studies on the topic. Among the underlying reasons for these positive implications: the students came from a higher socio-economic class than the local community (especially in the towns); they were perceived as being a quality population, a desirable social elite; many of the students rented units that were adjacent to the housing of the leaser, and as a result, joint interests were created for maintaining good neighborly relations. Another reason was associated with the volunteer work of the students in the community.
This study contributes to existing knowledge by examining the phenomenon in the Israeli context that has rarely been researched; it presents and characterizes a new concept – rural studentification. Furthermore, it points to a unique way of coping with the phenomenon from the perspective of local and national authorities. The study includes recommendations for public policy and for the practice of planning of student housing in the vicinity of institutions of higher learning.