Love thy neighbor: Sociability and instrumentality among Israeli neighbors

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The paper explores the tense dynamics among neighbors in a mixed middle-class neighborhood in Tel Aviv, based on three years of fieldwork (1988-1991) and a local survey. Considered within the context of the general community question, three case studies are presented as illustrations of local relationships, their ambiguities and limitations: relations shifted from daily encounters to absolute disconnection; people concealed major life plans from presumably close neighbors; in some cases, residents took official measures against a neighbor. It is suggested that intensive, prolonged relationships maintained among neighbors were not necessarily intimate personal ones. Rather, neighbor relationships seemed primarily instrumental, centering on a continuous exchange of minor services and an enhancement of one's anchor in the locality. The intimate appearance of these particular relations can possibly be attributed to general traits characteristic of Israeli culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-93
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Community
  • Israel
  • Middle class
  • Neighboring
  • Sociability
  • Urban anthropology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (all)


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