Regev-Messalem, Shiri. “Trapped in Resistance: Collective Struggle through Welfare Fraud in Israel.” Law & Society Review 48.4 (2014): 741-72.
This paper offers a qualitative empirical examination of the noncompliance of Israeli female welfare recipients with welfare laws and authorities. The paper demonstrates that their behavior, defined as “welfare fraud” by the law, is a limited form of collective resistance to the Israeli welfare state. Although the acts of welfare fraud that the women in my study engaged in entail a political claim against the state, the relationship between these acts and notions of collectivity is very constricted in form. The women’s collectivity is shown to be constrained by the welfare authorities’ invasive and pervasive investigation practices and methods. Due to fear of disclosure to the authorities, the women emerged as deliberately isolating themselves from their immediate environment and potential members of their like-situated collective. This weakens the connection between the women’s acts of resistance and their collectivity, and prevents their acts of resistance from driving social change, trapping them in their harsh conditions and existence.