Dangerous vulnerability: Simultaneous prohibition and coercion in Palestinian-Israeli single mothers’ relationships with men

Einat Lavee, Tal Meler, Madlen Shamshoum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study is to broaden understanding of how vulnerability is shaped more by social, cultural, and religious institutions than by individual life circumstances, exploring the case of Palestinian-Israeli single mothers’ relationships with men. Research often determines the vulnerability of a group, such as women migrants from an ethnic minority, by specific demographic characteristics. This common assumption has been challenged by calls to understand vulnerability as social processes intersecting with the action of the state and other social institutions. The study provides a nuanced examination of the social processes through which Palestinian-Israeli single mothers are simultaneously forbidden from and coerced into having relationships with men, drawing on a systematic analysis of data from semi-structured, in-depth interviews of 36 Palestinian-Israeli single mothers. The analysis exposed several mechanisms which forbid single mothers from having relationships with men, alongside mechanisms that permit, often even coerce, such relationships. These mechanisms are embedded in interrelated structural factors—massive differences in gender power relations, vast gender economic disparities, inability of most single mothers to support their families independently, and state policy of non-intervention in domestic affairs of ethnic minorities, and create a state of “dangerous vulnerability.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-973
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Ethnic minorities
  • Palestinians
  • Relationships with men
  • Single mothers
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Dangerous vulnerability: Simultaneous prohibition and coercion in Palestinian-Israeli single mothers’ relationships with men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this