Abstract

Divorce, separation, and widowhood produce great psychological stress for Palestinian women in Israel. Very often family support is a set of demands seeking to regulate and reshape their conduct. This article is based on a study conducted between 2007 and 2011 with twenty-four divorced, separated, and widowed Palestinian single mothers in Israel. In contrast to claims in most existing scholarship, all of the women turned to nonfamilial sources of support to deal with family and community regulation, restrictions, and stigmatization and to acquire resources. Level of surveillance and regulation was most highly associated with socioeconomic class. The poorer the women, the fewer their choices and the less freedom they had to determine their lives and their children’s lives. The women interviewed disproportionately reported turning to outsiders, such as psychologists, spiritualists, and feminist activists, for “expressive” support.

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