Deborah Bloomberg

"Nearly Citizens? : Child Citizenship and the Perspectives of 16-18 year olds in an Israeli 'Children's Village'"

The International Journal of Urban Labour and Leisure, 2(2) <>

ISSN: 1465-1270



Child citizenship is the 'next step' (Beck,1997)…

The school is often the focus of the debate on child citizenship, and is endowed with responsibility for educating future citizens (Elbers,1996). The family is the other object of attention in theory of child citizenship. Beck (1997), for example, explores how concepts of political freedom and democracy are connected to particular notions of the citizenship of children as family members. The study of child citizenship, many maintain (for example Cockburn,1998), has been widely passed over because it has been assumed that children are not yet, but potentially citizens. Recent debate on child citizenship asserts that the child should be an active citizen or 'practice' citizenship as far as the child is able, related to age and ability, in the present, and should not be considered merely as the child of an adult citizen. It is often repeated that this be acted on in practice as well as principle (see for example Fortin,1998).

Gaining the children's perspectives on citizenship is the logical next step. The research of which this project consists was carried out in a community in Northern Israel called the 'Children's Village'. In this study of citizenship from the perspectives of 16-18 year old members of the Children's Village, there are several emerging themes. These are speculatively presented as interpretative findings from interviews with fifteen 'graduate' members of the Children's Village, documentary evidence and my own background knowledge.

The research shows that children at the Children's Village have the full citizenship that is offered at the Village. The citizenship at the Children's Village is based upon face to face relations and duties and obligations are emphasized in the Village over rights. The principle/practice divide at the Children's Village may be narrower than outside the Village because many of the decisions at the Village are delegated to the members. Practice inside the Village is greatly influenced from sources outside the Village. The Children's Village, for these and other reasons, is an excessively democratized space, and is simultaneously the home of these children. The homogenizing cultures in the Village mean though, that with the right sort of education and oversight (Macedo,1991), particular sets of hegemonic intimations are enforceable in a way that would be impossible in a multi-communal society outside the Village.


Child citizenship debates and the socialization of citizenship.

What is citizenship?

The story so far…

There are a range of sociological accounts of what constitutes citizenship. Classical liberal theory, communitarian, Marxist and feminist accounts of citizenship will be of primary interest here because of their concepts of who has access to citizenship, depending on hegemonic assumptions of who is to be considered rational and irrational. These accounts say little about child citizenship, however, which will be the focus of the second part of this section. My objective in putting the cases for political agendas in their ideal forms; is to eventually have an idea of what kind of political cultures operate in the Children's Village.

Liberal theories of citizenship philosophically assume the existence of abstract, egoistic, autonomous individuals possessing a common set of rights. These liberal rights are distributed to citizens, by the state, across social groupings through a minimal social framework. The liberal discourse on rights is the Western understanding, from the idea of natural rights and the social contract. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states in its article 1: 'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood'. Liberal theories promote the free market and individual liberty on the one hand and human rights on the other. The liberal conception of citizenship means that for all its citizens there is an equal opportunity to succeed because as a citizen in a liberal democracy each have rights to opportunity.

T. H. Marshall's citizenship is based on full membership of a national community. The citizenship whose development he traces is not a local community membership. T. H. Marshall identified the national emergence of civil, political and social rights over the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries respectively. The civil rights were connected with individual liberty of speech, thought and faith. Validity of contracts and justice and property rights also developed as civil rights. This period leads in to political rights which determine who may participate in the exercise of political power. The social rights include policies of economic welfare, social services and the education system which in principle are intended to give a sense of sharing in a social heritage (Marshall, 1950). The judicial, governmental and social development should not be seen as separate, they are interrelated systems, says Marshall. This position is civic republicanism, when the government takes a positive role, although is not encumbered, in providing economic rights and benefits. In civic republicanism citizenship also invokes a reciprocal relationship between citizen and state: the state providing rights whilst the citizen performs duties.

Communitarianism may be described through its critique of liberal theory. Macedo (1991), presents the liberal theory defence against the communitarian and civic republican criticism. The features of this criticism he finds most objectionable are accusations that liberalism lacks positive ideals, virtue, shared projects and goals and fails to take commonality seriously. Macedo emphasizes that communitarians are content to follow the ideals of the majority culture and counters these accusations, pointing towards injustices that may transpire without the perpetual public debate that occurs in liberalism at its best. Macedo says that communitarianism scorns judiciary and philosophy. Liberal rights, says Macedo, are justified by philosophical reasoning between many individuals and interest groups within society.

Communitarianism places a great deal of emphasis on the obligation of a member of a community to its shared values, creating shared identity, the 'national' obsession (Lukes in Ishay, 1997). Whereas liberalism is generally opposed to arbitrary state intervention, communitarianism emphasizes the positive role that the state can play in enabling principles to become practice.

'All members of inclusive communities are to be informed not only of their entitlements in terms of the level of personal and environmental protection they can rightly expect, but they are also to be made aware of their responsibility to protect their fellow citizens from harm, to meet the basic needs of those who cannot provide for themselves, and to safeguard opportunities of cooperative inquiries among themselves' (Tam, 1988:11).

Classical citizenship also operated locally, as defined by Aristotle, and had important differences with liberal theory: '…liberals reject the intrusive tutelary apparatus and rigid controls necessary to inculcate virtue and achieve the manageable homogeneity required by the demands of ancient citizenship'. (Macedo, 1991:98)

The glaring miss matches between these proposed 'universal' rights and cross cultural practice mean that human rights all over the world in many circumstances are not taken seriously (Lukes in Ishay, 1997). The liberal assumption that the Eurocentric conception of human rights is adequate for a truly global employment is unrealistic. Marxist and feminist theorists contest the liberal and civic republican insistence that citizenship rights grant sovereignty to the individual. They ask how can the 'universal' human rights operate across the sovereign nation states whose conceptions of citizenship are bound to differ. The most pressing issue with regard to the citizenship rights is that blatantly not all citizens enjoy equal citizenship, citizens are not abstracted individuals starting from the same point, 'born free and equal'.

Marx believed that civil exclusion of the citizen in a capitalist economy was exacerbated by false categorization by the state: 'In the state… man is regarded as a species-being, he is the imaginary member of an illusionary sovereignty, is deprived of his real individual life and endowed with unreal universality'. (Marx in Ishay, 1997:192)

The liberal idea of the social contract, for Marx, means the naturalizing and rationalizing of inequality due to the assumption that all citizens have identical civil rights. Free will is a class privilege of the ownership classes. The exclusion of the working classes from political citizenship, which could advance their civil rights by demonstration of their competence, stems from the liberal tradition of natural rights. Marx believed that natural rights are not natural but situated historically, and it is therefore wrong to disguise historical systemic inequality in this way. Marx saw natural rights as justifying the divisions between civilized and uncivilized individuals. By reducing man, '…on the one hand, to a member of civil society, to an egoistic, independent individual, and, on the other hand, to a citizen, a juridical person' (Marx in Ishay, 1997:192) it is made very difficult for marginalized groups to battle against inequality.

This kind of separation of the natural from the civilized; the irrational from the rational; the private from the public has led not only Marxist critics of liberal conceptions of citizenship to point out that it is a historical exclusionary practice. On contemporary Western equal opportunity policy Lukes points out in his 'Five Fables about Human Rights' that:

'There is equal opportunity in the sense that active discrimination against individuals and groups is prohibited, but there is an unequal start to the race for jobs and rewards; the socially privileged have a considerable advantage stemming from their social background''(Lukes in Ishay, 1997:241)

This means that when we talk of equal citizenship rights we mean this only in the abstract and that there are historical hurdles to overcome.

For feminist theorists who believe that the social contract relies heavily on the private/ public divide, the social contract is simultaneously a sexual contract because both gender relations and sexual relations are weighted in men's favour (Pateman, 1988). Lister (1997) argues that for women, not only have they been treated in the pubic sphere predominantly as having a lesser value than men but that the citizenship to which women fight daily for access is a patriarchal citizenship. Lister also points out that categorization confounds what is needed for a citizenship: a multi layered citizenship that can develop with changing roles. The concept of a 'woman friendly' citizenship is, '…contradictory both because citizenship is inherently woman unfriendly and because 'woman' itself represents a false universalism which replicates that of traditional constructions of citizenship' (Lister, 1998:195). If this model of citizenship is to be retained where groups are sub-headed, women as individuals within the gender class can be further excluded when in fact we should not support its spatializing characteristics.

The diversity of citizens is only paid lip service and legislatively marginalizes many in society through classificatory oversights and ideological prejudices. Citizenship operates according to the power and common sense assumptions of the hegemonic and cultural elite (Yuval Davis and Werbner, 1999:3). There is dissatisfaction with citizenship as a direct result of this.


Child citizenship debates

In contemporary sociology, gendered, class and ethnic inequalities, for example, with regard to citizenship are now well acknowledged. The staggering of value-laden assumptions placed due to conceptions of membership of a certain social grouping is fundamental to any sociological discussion and so it is important to consider where and why these classifications are imposed. Hierarchically, those below a certain age hold a status or value in the west that has similarities and differences to other social groupings.

The social construct of 'child' in the West refers to an individual until the age of eighteen years old according to the 1948 charter of Human Rights as set out by the United Nations. Liberal theory of citizenship gives some rights to children but, '…because they are still developing basic capacities of judgement, reflection, and responsibility they are not allowed to enter into contracts or vote in elections' (Macedo, 1991:33). To an extent, this is the same reasoning that has been used to exclude on gender, ablist and ethnicity grounds. A guillotine on childhood becomes problematic when there are obvious mismatches, for example, between the ages that individuals may join the army, fighting and dying for their country, or drive, and basic liberal voting rights. Occasionally these ages are changed through legislation, an example of which is the lowering of the voting age to 18 at the end of the Vietnam War.

Communitarianism claims that information about citizenship is only to be effectively transmitted with those who have been brought up with an understanding of citizenship and the role that they can play. (Tam, 1998:8) It asks questions about the effectiveness of raising of new generations to adopt certain roles in a liberal democracy in the institutions of the family and schools.

Although classical citizenship differs with liberal theory, ideas about child status in citizenship are not dissimilar. One opinion on this is that of Aristotle, 'Children, the sons of free men at any rate, grow up to be citizens but are not citizens yet' (Dahrendorf, 1996:27).

The charity Save the Children and the government commissioned the Report on Children's Rights as the final stage of a project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a document that sets out children's rights, such as the right to education. Children from twelve to nineteen were encouraged to compile the report to present to international corporations. The hope is that children will learn to contribute to the decisions that affect them as individuals, and as groups at unit, local, national and global levels. ( and The Guardian 15/2/2000) Education about citizenship operates on a principle that will hopefully be carried with the children, of caring about their involvement in their surroundings and being part of an active citizenship. This is about the inclusion rather than exclusion of children from all kinds of backgrounds to help them participate in the social processes that surround them.


Citizenship and education

There has been a great deal of research published about education and recent research on children's perspectives on education in schools (for example, Montadon and Osiek, 1998), yet only recently in Great Britain has citizenship become a subject to be taught in schools. In late 1999 the English national curriculum for citizenship was published. The training of school age individuals to absorb by education the features of citizenship in the context of institutions is an interesting development. Elaine Unterhalter sees citizenship and education as closely related. She says that education leads to citizenship, that education is actually citizenship, or that citizenship facilitates education by making space for it to function and entering into a dialogue with it (Unterhalter in Yuval-Davis and Werbner, 1999:100).

The motivation of this addition to the school curriculum could be a visible attempt to factually inform students about their legislated rights and responsibilities. On the other hand it could be a generic encouragement for children from all social groupings to feel like increasingly active participants in society. The state believes that future citizens will uphold the principles of citizenship. O'Leary picks up on the last of these motivations for educating citizens 'in potentia' but focuses on promoting the dominant national identity. This can be done by,

'…educating potential citizens in a national culture, in respect for nationally endorsed institutions, in prescribing the moral universe of rights and obligations, in preserving and developing distinctive cultural idiosyncrasies, and in freeing the educated from their prejudices, be they patriarchal or otherwise, of the home or the sect' (O'Leary, 1998:70).

Here O'Leary points out that educational institutions view the potential citizen as culturally malleable and ultimately open to indoctrination as the child is 'liberated from 'irrational' beliefs be they of the home of the sect (1998).

Children's rights to education should also be examined further. It should not be assumed that the state has only the child's interest in mind when it legislates compulsory education. In fact,

'Children came to the attention of the authorities largely as delinquents threatening security and property, as future workers requiring skills, as future soldiers in need of health and fitness, or as future mothers' (Cockburn, 1998:105).

In this understanding Cockburn views the state as desirous of filling certain roles within society, of transforming potential threats to security into guardians of state interests.

The other location for education about citizenship is the home. The sociology of citizenship understands the importance of families to invoke the importance of the spirit of democracy and freedom. Beck also notes the difference between the idea of freedom and the reality but notes two aspects that will recycle this contradiction: socialisation and deeds. Beck writes about the cultural change that is occurring and that nowadays democratic rules are only internalised through experience and deeds. Intergenerational conflict means that decisions are justified and agreed upon: agreement and negotiation (Beck, 1997), and in such a way the 'democratisation of the family' may some day become a reality. Children's points of view, including their family background, the media or the various groups they belong to are still rarely explored in sociological studies (Montandon with Osiek, 1998).

This research project attempts to add to the debate on child citizenship, that says that children, when they reach the age of 18 years old, are only then able to make competent decisions that concern their citizenship and the citizenship of others. Participation in decision making for children's personal concerns is the focus of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child. It states that the child should be able to freely express his or her views and that they should be given, '…due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.' This article has been criticised (Fortin, 1998) for promoting an ideal which is not necessarily practised. There is a disjunctive between theory of children's citizenship and the practice of children's citizenship.

I studied residents at an Israeli 'Children's Village', which encompasses features of both home and school, in order to shed light on at least some their understandings of how citizenship relates to them in their community. By unpacking children's understandings of both entitlements and responsibilities it may become more evident what messages children are really taking on board.


Citizenship in the kibbutz

The phenomenon of the Israeli kibbutz has been in existence for almost a century. A localised community, the kibbutz was founded in the spirit of secularism and the "Personal conviction and belief in the justice of economic collectivism and social equality" (Rabin, 1965:1). The ideals of the kibbutz were socialist and these ideals with the secular kibbutz as a whole are in decline as the youth have chosen to move away into the city, changing demographic characteristics. For many years the success and spirit of the kibbutz lay in the division of labour amongst all the members of the community. This has long since been a changing characteristic of the kibbutz, hired and volunteer labour is standard in most kibbutzim. Where once the children's houses were important, they now play an increasingly minor role in the kibbutz and adults will often work outside of the kibbutz bringing an income into the kibbutz.

There are kibbutzim who specialize in agricultural production, others who manufacture goods and materials and other kibbutzim which run guest rooms. There are some religious kibbutzim affiliated to the National Religious Party. 'Nahal' soldiers, a core in the Israeli Defence Force, do part of their service on kibbutz and the 'Garin Oded' operate a gap-year, pre-army, for ex- youth movement leaders which can also take place on kibbutz. Many Israelis have grown up on the kibbutz and it has been historically important in the formation of the state of Israel.

I found hired and volunteer labour to be marginalized although they take a burden of duties and responsibilities. In Kibbutz Ketura the members lived in the centre of the kibbutz with the volunteers on the periphery and even further out, the hired labour. On special occasions the volunteers and hired labour ate after the members. I was then very surprised at the treatment of myself and the other volunteers and felt as though I had been treated like a 'second class citizen'.

It is the kibbutz that is well known as territorial communities in Israel. There are also other villages that take quite a different form to the kibbutz community. In Israel, especially in Northern Israel there are many types of much older villages. The Arab villages, Druize villages and the Jewish villages have for many years coexisted. Religious and secular, Sephardi (Jews from North Africa and the Middle East) and Ashkenazi (Jews from European countries) villages have always been a feature of Israel. In the last fifty years however a number of other villages have sprung up for example the vegetarian village of 'Amirim' and in 1997 the village for mentally disabled people 'Kishor' opened, also in the Galilee. There are a number of Children's Villages all over Israel, which are partially government funded and partially privately funded.

The layout of the Children's Village can be compared with a kibbutz in terms of the communal buildings and dining hall. Having worked in Kibbutz 'Ketura' (summer, 1997) as a nursery nurse, the Children's Village as an English language assistant (winter/spring, 1996/7) and as an assistant in an Israeli school for autistic children (summer, 1999), I was aware of these features common to both the Children's Village and the kibbutz.

Newer villages are highly selective in terms of admission and have formal structures for decision making within the villages, for example, committees. When individuals or a family look to enter a kibbutz or moshav (village), they must spend months getting to know the other members so that the other members can ultimately vote upon their entrance. Individuals looking to enter the vegetarian village, I have been told unofficially, should be part of young 'couples' with children or the promise of children and of course vegetarian.


What is the Children's Village? How is it constructed?

The documentary evidence that was available to me was the Village leaflet. I was already aware of most of the information inside the leaflet, yet I found a few passages that helped me to gain more understanding than I had previously of the Children's Village.

The Village was founded in 1978. Recha Friar created the Institute for the Training of Israeli Children of which the Children's Villages are part. This is the biggest of the Children's Villages for the preparation for life.

The Village is situated in the northern corner of Karmiel, the youngest of the development towns along the green line, founded in 1964. The Village is based in one of the most beautiful areas in Israel in the valley of Beit HaKerem. This valley separates the upper Galilee and the lower Galilee and is surrounded by Jewish and non-Jewish agricultural settlements. The bungalows in the Village with the red tiles on the roof and the areas of grass and flowers, give a pastoral environment that the leaflet says is necessary for the educational system. Macedo (1991), notes that classical citizenship also operated in a locality. The Village is well maintained and the members develop a pride in their surroundings.

About 240 children and young people from the age of 5 to 18 are educated in the Village primary school and live in the Village until high-school graduation. These children have been sent to the Village from all over Israel. The children arrive in the Village because of what the leaflet describes as socio-economic reasons. Most of them come from disadvantaged families that are familiar with divorce, violence, crime, drugs, sexual abuse, physical abuse and bad economic conditions. The children needed to get away from the bad environment in which they lived. The children who arrive in the Village are diagnosed as having what the leaflet defines as, a 'normal' level of learning ability and suggests that these children have already been assessed before they even arrive.

The Children's Village, like all the Villages for the 'Preparation of Israeli Children', works in an 'unconventional and unique educational system'. This system is a combination of a foster family and an ordinary boarding group that creates the feeling of extended families. In every family there are 10 children, mixed boys and girls from the ages of 5-15. In the Village there are 20 foster families and three 'graduate' houses. These are for graduate residents from the ages of 16-18 years old. They have no parental supervision. Instead graduate youth workers supervise but live out of the houses.

A married, heterosexual couple living in the family house with their own children and 10 of the Village children supervises the family. The house- mothers usually come from the educational sector and the husbands come from a variety of occupations. The duty of the couple is to supervise what the Village leaflet calls, '…an ordinary way of life, for the extended family to provide an example of behaviour to copy for the children in the families'. This is a description of the dominant familial ideology that operates in the Village. It is particularly striking because the children come from such different backgrounds. The children are thus socialised in a way that must be compatible with the state because it is the state that partially funds the Children's Village.

All the older children of the Village study in Karmiel's high school. In the afternoon a variety of programmes are organised in the Village that includes a study centre that helps students who have difficulties, it was here that I taught English. There is a huge range of creative activities. The musical instruments: keyboard, violin, drums, flute, choir and guitar. The art activities: drawing, ceramics, hand crafts, puppet theatre. The sport activities: football, basketball, table tennis, tennis, karate, aerobics, modern dancing and chess. The Village also has an animal area. The Village provides a system of social activities for all ages and creates an atmosphere of self- management for the children.

The leaflet says that there are five social workers and that there are four psychologists and therapy allocated for the children in the different areas of art that help the children to cope with their problems. The professional staff deals with the different traumas that the children have gone through starting with their abandonment experience and then continue with the different situations that have happened to them in their broken homes. Dealing with their problems is done through single and group therapies. Everything that is done by the carers is done by reference to reports on the children. There are also religious national service girls and female soldiers who live and work in the Village as part of their national service. There is obviously a great deal of surveillance in the Village, all to encourage education. Most of the graduate interviewees, without being questioned, identified this as the main priority of the Village.

The majority of children in the Village have no family to go to in the holidays. The Village looks for families to take the children in the nearby area. They repeatedly host those children for all the holidays providing consistent care. The members of the Village build up contacts in the nearby area all with an emphasis on stability.

Some members of the public called the 'Friends of the Children's Village' created a support group in Karmiel. The group does their best to help fundraising for the provision for children in the Village in the areas that aren't covered by the management of the Institute of the Training of Israeli Children. The support group gives the children presents on festival days and takes part of the financial burden for the animal area. The group accountant oversees the financing of different activities, purchases books, musical instruments and fundraises for the development of the Village. One of the biggest constructions by the support group is the building of a football pitch and a games club with the charity of the German Jewish community. Construction of a basketball ground and games area was done with the help of the English Jewish community. The members of the Children's Village have no direct responsibility to these oversees communities except insofar as they are young Israeli citizens.

The Village leaflet had no reference on the leaflet as to who had written it, I assume that it was written by the Village management. The document is probably addressed to potential sponsors of the Children's Village. It paints a picture of the beautiful surrounds of the Village, then the situations from which the abandoned children have come, followed by the emphasis on hegemonic family values. It then describes the educational system and the activities that are provided by the Village, then the sophisticated methods of professional care and finally mention that none of this would be possible without the charitable donations from outside the Village. The leaflet is covered in pictures of happy children, children being educated, children sitting in a family house, cultivating the land and utilizing the charitably provided facilities.


Research methods

My own background knowledge and experience of the Children's Village and Israeli society helped me to gain access the Village and then place the interviews in context. Documentary evidence enables a description of the Village from a perspective other than my own. This is a form of triangulation, between background knowledge, documentary evidence and the interviews, to gain a more rounded picture, not only of the meanings the children attach to citizenship, but also to have insight into where these meanings come from, and what kind of environment the Village intends to create.

This piece of research could not follow a linear model because circumstances were constantly bound to change and the research was always going to be exploratory. This research is an ethnographic study, taking place at the Children's Village in northern Israel.

Triangulation using open-ended interview, participant observation, content analysis and the use of other techniques have been used by Riccardo Luccini. His study of children who have left their families, have suffered instability and so on, makes it also appropriate for this research project. Likewise, the graduate's testimonies were never used to invalidate another and interview extracts are placed in context which are important for validation of research results (Luccini, 1996).

I did not embark upon this piece of research consciously in the role of 'observer as participant' (Gold, 1958), although this is probably the best description of how I acted during my time in the Children's Village. The graduates who were interviewed knew my motivations for the research. I feel they talked to me because they knew that I was from outside, and that I would leave the Village without showing the research to the adults of the Village. The period spent in the Children's Village was brief, two days, but the inclusion of literary data and background knowledge is intended to compensate. I was also from a different background to these graduates being an English student so they enjoyed explaining their ideas to an outsider.

The familiarity I had with the Village meant that I had no problems of socialisation. This shares characteristics with what Hammersley (1990) calls 'practitioner ethnography'. The graduates who were interviewed had heard other graduates talk about how they knew me. In their interviews they had no need to explain what the Village was, why they were living there.



In this part of the research project I look at the methods used for collection of data about the perspectives of 16 to 18 year olds, what the Village calls 'graduates', the focus of my project.

I describe:



I decided to carry out the research interviews for this dissertation in Israel out of convenience and because I was sure that I could obtain access to the Children's Village. I knew that I would be working in a school in a city in the north of Israel in summer 1999, within a few hours of the Children's Village by bus. I had found the arrangements in the Children's Village fascinating when I was an English assistant there on my gap year, 1996/7. As a sociology student I believed that it would be an interesting subject of research to be discussed, in the broader context of child citizenship.

I knew that citizenship is an extremely important issue for Israelis because the state of Israel, only established in 1948 does not consider in any sense its statehood as 'imagined'. In conversation I have observed that Israelis commonly use 'medinat Yisrael', meaning the state of Israel when saying 'Israel'. I knew that children learnt democracy and citizenship as core subjects at school. I also knew from my experiences in the vegetarian village of Amirim and in the Karmiel Children's Village that committees, rights and obligations, are very important and that there is social activism and a sense of pride in the villages.

The focus of the research project is the graduate's perspectives of citizenship. It was the graduates with whom I had experience as an English assistant. It is appropriate to carry this project out with this age group because they are approaching the age of majority.



There are many interesting aspects that could be investigated in this kind of situation. This piece of research focuses on three of these particularly.

From these areas of interest I constructed a list of interview questions which I later go on to discuss.



The route into the Village was through my gap-year volunteer co-ordinator whom I contacted in June 1999. I arranged to go to the Village when it reopened after the summer recess. Eventually on 2/9/99 I contacted my volunteer coordinator again, as instructed, who contacted the Village director to prepare him for my telephone call. When I telephoned him he said he remembered me, and that everything was arranged. I presented the idea of the study to the director of the Village as a university project. He did not ask to see the questions and gave me a telephone number with which to contact the graduate youth worker to finalise arrangements.

I succeeded after three days to contact the graduate youth worker. He informed me that he did not know who I was or anything about the research! I considered three days to be a relatively short time to wait after the summer recess. I had personal time constraints by this point, however, and had to return to England at the end of the week. We arranged a meeting after which if he considered the interviews reasonable I would carry out the research. It was really the youth worker with whom I had to strike a positive relationship because the volunteer coordinator and the head of the Village knew me personally.


Practice interviews

As soon as I found out that I had permission to carry out the research from the head of the Village I organised two practice interviews. The purpose of these was primarily to make sure that my questions in Hebrew could be understood by the graduates in the Village. Practice interviews were carried out with 16 year olds in the vegetarian village but each time they collapsed because the interviewees arose, approaching me, taking the pen out of my hand and altering the questions on the paper. I overcame this by asking them the amended questions before continuing with the interviews. In the light of their responses I amended the original questions. The interviews were not very lengthy because the participants were under time constraints.



Before I left England I decided that interviewees with fifteen graduates from the Children's Village would be an adequate sample size for the nature of the project. I believe that this is roughly half the population of graduate residents in the Children's Village. Eight of these graduates were female and seven were male. This was incidental as I did not set out to specifically study the implications that gender has for child citizenship. Three of the fifteen interviewees were not born in Israel. Two of these, Boris and Zilla, were Russian born whilst one, Ena, came from the Ukraine.

This is a non-probability sample, sometimes used by pilot studies for small scale surveys. I selected this kind of sample because it is easy to set up in a setting such as the Children's Village, and because I do not wish to generalize my findings beyond the Children's Village. This can also be called a convenience sample (Cohen and Manion, 1994). The interviewees were selected because I asked them if I could interview them, as I walked around the Village, until I had obtained the required sample size.

I did not need to apply to each resident individually, rather to the director of the Village. This corroborates Cockburn's argument (1998) (he talks about children's access to benefits), that parents, guardians or institutions always mediate. Therefore I had no issues of selecting a sample and no questions of how many respondents I would eventually interview. Yet there is an irony that in a research project about children's views of citizenship that I should not originally apply to the children individually but rather to the institution, the Village in which they live.

There were three particular desires I had concerning my interview methods:

  • On my motivation for the research: The graduate residents should know who I was, what history I had had with the Children's Village and what would happen to the research once I left the Children's Village.
  • On the experience of the interviews: The graduate residents and myself should find ourselves as much at ease as possible, enjoy the research, and that I would not unduly disturb their routines.
  • That I would be aware that my subjective experience as an ex-volunteer in the Children's Village and as a sociology student would play a part in the research project.

Cohen and Manion (1994) describe Cicourel's viewpoint that in any interview there are unavoidable features. These can be: problems of mutual trust, social distance and the interviewer's control, the respondent may react if the questioning is too deep, both parties may hold back information and meanings may not be understood by either the interviewer or the interviewee, and that not all aspects of the encounter may be brought within rational control.

I decided that structured, open-ended questions would cause the least stress to the graduates. In these interviews, other than the subject of the question, there were 'no other restrictions on either the content or the manner of the interviewee's reply' (Cohen and Manion, 1994:277). Later, I describe that the questions are a mixture of direct, indirect, general and specific, questions that ask for the opinions of the graduates and questions that require factual answers. I decided not to probe the graduates for further details in their responses to the questions. The data from the interviews was 'postcoded' (Cohen and Manion, 1994), verbatim from the Dictaphone, and subjected to content analysis by response counting.

Interviews of the graduate residents at the Children's Village were chosen as part of the research method and there were some restrictions where this was concerned. The interview questions were the same in every interview because it was important to maintain the flow of the conversation. The interviewees were encouraged in a minimal non-verbal way by nodding my head and gesticulating a little with my hands to elaborate on their ideas when the interview slowed down. The questions I composed to ask the graduate residents needed to take account of their stressful backgrounds and not compound their anxiety.


Entering the Village

The Children's Village is situated out of town and has high security with tall metal gates patrolled by a guard. There is an army base immediately next to the Children's Village and so there is quite an atmosphere at the boundaries of the Village of a desire to control who enters the Children's Village. I stopped by some grass and asked some playing children where the graduate youth worker lived. I knew the layout of the Village so I found him quite quickly.


Considerations of time

In choosing this subject of research I had not imagined that the period of access to the Children's Village would be as short as a matter of two days. The interviews took place on the first of these two days and I returned to collect some documentary evidence from the Children's Village offices (the Village leaflet) on the second day. The research question emphasis on the residents' views of the nature of citizenship in such a community leant itself more to a series of interviews. I did not feel that I would have been granted access over a period longer than this one day for the interviews because I would have needed to further occupy the time of the graduate youth worker even though his supervision turned out to be minimal. As I have already mentioned, I did not wish to stress the graduate residents of the Children's Village by asking for longer than fifteen minutes of their time. For example Na'ama's interview was quite hurried because it was the graduate evening meal- time in their communal dining room. I resumed the interviews after we had eaten dinner.

The graduate youth worker and I discussed the research, he briefly examined the proposed questions and found no unsuitable material. He then led me to the rooms of some girls in the beiti bogrim (graduate houses) where I was to begin the interviews.



Whilst ethical considerations are mentioned throughout the research it is necessary, particularly when research involves power relationships, research with children for example, to adhere to ethical practice guidelines. I made efforts to act only in the interest of the interviewees and to preserve their well being. The names of the interviewees have been changed and may now only be recognizable to Village members.

Practical issues during the interviews

I had requested that a group of children would be selected for one-to-one interviews, and a quiet space, but this level of organization did not materialise. I accepted the youth worker's instruction to wander around the beiti bogrim (graduate houses) and find subjects for myself. I was aware that shutting the doors of bedrooms with only the interviewee and myself would have been inappropriate although presumably because I am female the girls sometimes did close the doors.

The atmosphere of excitement around me was quite overwhelming and I was not able to take real control over the situation in terms of how I had imagined the interviews to take place; quietly, one-to-one. My method of recording the interviews was a Dictaphone and I asked the graduates if they minded. I had planned to transcribe them firstly into Hebrew and then translate them into English. The level of noise became a practical problem when I came to transcribe the material but only to the extent that I lost more than a handful of sentences. That the interviews were conducted with other people sitting around the interviewees and myself probably affected the responses I collected, perhaps through embarrassment or repetition of responses because some graduates observed other interviews before they were themselves interviewed.


Introducing the graduates…

Name Male/Female Age of participant Years in Children's Village Years In Israel



Age of participant

Years in Children’s Village

Years In Israel

1. Adi




Born in Israel

2. Shulamit




Born in Israel

3. Adva




Born in Israel

4. Yossi




Born in Israel

5. Boris




9 years (Russian born)

6. Nurit




Born in Israel

7. Ena




10 years (Ukrainian born)

8. Ohad




Born in Israel

9. Shmuelik




Born in Israel

10. Liat




Born in Israel

11. Assaf




Born in Israel

12. Na’ama




Born in Israel

13. Lior




Born in Israel

14. Alon




Born in Israel

15. Zilla




6 years (Russian born)

Table 1: the graduate interviewees

The members of the Children's Village were interested to know why I would be conducting these interviews. I explained that I was studying sociology at University and that my special interest and research was in citizenship. The graduates said that they also studied citizenship in school.

I was not concerned that there would be a formal relationship between the interviewees and myself because a few of those graduating members interviewed remembered me as an English assistant during my gap year. They had been in Mishpachtonim (family houses) and there were several reunions. These residents were very friendly and I had the impression that they were comfortable talking about citizenship.

The various comments taken from the interviews are quoted verbatim according to my transcription and translation.


Results of the interview questions

I have already mentioned that I decided to ask the same questions to all fifteen interviewees. I now will appraise each of the questions in the context of the interviews. Some of the questions were answered in more detail than others.

Have you heard of word citizenship?

Do you study citizenship in school?

These first two questions were intended as straightforward icebreakers to put the interviewees at ease. All the interviewees had 'of course' heard of citizenship. I knew that all students in the last two years of high school study citizenship. The majority of the graduates of the Village who were 16-18 year olds had not studied citizenship and told me that they were to begin to study it in the following year. Zilla (18 years old) has been studying citizenship in school for two years already. This leads me to believe that many of the graduates of the Village, although between the ages of 16-18 years old, are not in the final years at high school but may have been held back. I had previously understood that all these graduates had been learning about citizenship as a subject in school; had I not asked this specific question I would have interpreted the graduates responses in light of this assumption.

For you, what is meant by the word citizenship?

In answer to this question many abstract concepts were mentioned. 10 of the 15 interviewees spoke of rights and five also spoke of security and a sense of belonging. Four of the interviewees mentioned obligations to the state in a national sense. Two of the graduates mentioned opportunities. There was one mention each of freedom, independence and religion. This was intended as a broad question and it yielded many explanations which I late go on to discuss. It gave an opportunity for the interviewees to get used to talking about citizenship with me and is possibly the most unstructured, undirected, of all the questions.

Are you an Israeli citizen?

All the 15 graduates answered that they were Israeli citizens.

Why do you have the right to Israeli citizenship?

This question was intended to be quite directed to provoke some responses from the graduates. Most of the graduates responded that Israeli citizenship was a birth right for them.

What forms of media may inform you about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship or changes in citizenship that may affect you?

Television, newspapers, radio and the Internet were the forms of media that were mentioned to me by the graduates but also school was mentioned.

Do you feel more belonging as a citizen to the Children's Village or to the State?

This question was intended to gauge whether citizenship for the graduate members of the Village, if there was a relationship, had more similarities with the ancient classical citizenship or more of an affinity with liberal citizenship values. Four of the graduates interviewed, said that it was to the state that they felt more belonging as a citizen, whilst six said the Village. Five graduate interviewees said either that they felt belonging as citizens in the same measure to both the Village or to the state or that presently they feel more belonging as citizens to the Village, but it could change when they leave the Village. Only when interviewing did I realise that this question was really two questions combined. The first; do you feel more belonging to the Children's Village or to the state of Israel?, the second; are you a citizen of the Village or the state of Israel? With reflection I realise that this was a very directed question. It assumes that firstly, the graduate interviewees must feel that citizenship gives them a sense of belonging, and secondly that they must feel some kind of allegiance to either the state or the Children's Village. My own assumptions about citizenship and the feeling of community in the Children's Village led to the formulation of the question in this way.

What does one need to give to the Village as a condition for living here? For example to go to school, to do special duties or to volunteer in something.

As a member of the Village what do you expect to receive?

Do you think that the system of rights and responsibilities works well for all the children?

Part of the aim of these interviews was to find out if there is a relationship between the rights and obligations of the graduates in the Children's Village, and model values of citizenship. The first step is to ask what kind of rights and obligations the graduates have, this is what the above questions attempt to do. These questions were responded to quite extensively. I understood from the responses, that it was only as a graduate that hours of 'volunteering' had to be undertaken, both inside and outside the Village, and that younger children had other chores in the mishpachtonim (family houses). The graduates were engaged in all kinds of services to their community of the Children's Village. Several times it was pointed out that the graduates did not see their activities as obligations to fulfil, but rather as a service for themselves collectively, that is considered as a part of life. The other reason what I have called 'conditions', are not perceived as such by the graduates, is that they see the Village as their home. My question supposes that the members of the Village are temporarily living there subject to them observing conditions and as I found out this is a mistaken assumption. The graduates do not feel subordinate to some kind of authority but part of the Village.

The second part of an attempt to test the existence of values of citizenship in the Village is about what the graduates expect to receive. Graduate rights that were equal to their peers, improved relationships with adults, and freedom, were what came across most strongly during the interviewees. The graduates demonstrate that there is no direct relationship between conditions of living in the Village and what the members can expect to receive. Indeed, there is no expectation of receiving anything other than good relations and equality with their peers within the Village.

In answer to the final question above, the graduates felt unanimously, that the system works for the best of all the children, taking into account the special needs of each. The replies did not refer to rights and responsibilities. Instead, it appears to me that most of the replies are, in fact, in response to a different question: Do you think that the system works well for all the children? I have already established that my emphasis on rights and obligations was due to a desire to test the existence of a liberal understanding of citizenship. I believe that as long as the responses are related to the amended question they still have validity.


Are you a member of a committee or student committee to represent your opinions or the opinions of others?

Do you have ideas to improve life at the Children's Village?

Do you have more freedom of speech inside or outside of the Village?

Questions about membership of a committee, ideas of improvement of life in the Village and freedom of speech, all aim to draw out of the graduate ideas about whether the graduates are engaged in an 'active citizenship' operating in the Village.

The graduates explained which committees there are in the Village. Whilst all the graduates related to me their involvement as volunteers performing various services for the Village, some graduates were more engaged in Village politics than others. For some of the graduates, being part of the committees is really not their thing. Another assumption hidden in this question is that opinions are always, or can only be, represented through committees or councils. I understand that the Village does have committees, through the responses that the graduates gave, but that this is a less used channel by the graduates to express feelings or concerns that they may have, and that there are many people within the Village to whom the graduates can turn.

Throughout the interviews many of the responses to these questions were praise for the Village. I feel that this is an unavoidable consequence of interviews of this kind, particularly when some of the questions may be interpreted as; are you happy here? When I asked the graduates if they had ideas to improve life at the Children's Village, two graduates made no response whilst the other graduates found this a very difficult question to answer without effusing about excellence of the Children's Village.

These graduates said that there was more freedom of speech in the Children's Village than outside, which the graduates mostly interpreted as school. Several responses reminded me that the graduates feel that freedom of speech is only something that is necessary when opinions are suppressed, this is not the case in the Children's Village.

What are the differences in the rights and responsibilities of children and adults in Israel?

This question notes that there are differences in rights and responsibilities between children and adults and even that children have rights and responsibilities. There were many answers to this question that are generally in favour of maintaining the status quo.


Findings and analysis

There are many discoveries and insights that may be gleaned from this research which may be categorised for analysis. This combines the data of the focus of the research question, perspectives of graduate interviewees on citizenship, and information about the Children's Village, the case of the research project.

Although this is not the order in which the interview questions were constructed, the meanings behind the responses lend themselves to this way of relaying the information. I will now attempt what Hammersley (1998:23) calls a theoretical description, to place the graduate's comments in the context of the sociological discussion of children's citizenship. In doing this I hope to draw theoretical interpretations and conclusions.


Initial explanations of citizenship

The graduate's responses about their conceptions of the meaning of citizenship were extremely interesting. Citizenship, the graduates say, can bring to the individual what social scientists might term ontological security and connection with community at least in the sense of territory and interest. Many of the definitions of citizenship are often based on ideas of equal rights and obligations for citizens.

'Everybody who is found here in Israel is a citizen, a citizen who receives the rights and obligations that are given to everybody. He has security and independence. I think really that everyone who lives in this state thinks of themselves as a citizen'. (Adi, 16)

Adi obviously believes that citizenship rights afford sovereignty to the individual, this is a liberal perspective that is echoed in many of the interviews. Throughout the interviews there are many mentions of citizenship as opening doors to opportunity. The interviewees did not verbalise concerns about hierarchical inequality within citizenship, rather they described it breaking down barriers in society and had citizenship as the starting point for life.

'Citizenship in my opinion is centrally about freedoms. Even better is the idea of a citizen in a free state. It gives you much more possibilities to go in different directions. This is to say that at the moment that you are an Israeli citizen it makes different things happen for you'. (Shulamit, 16)

This is an extremely positive notion of citizenship, one which will have been taught at school perhaps. As has already been expressed, ideal citizenship is different from the reality. Others had explanations of democracy and citizenship that are more 'practical':

'Citizenship is belonging to one state or another, the conditions of that state in that there are rights and obligations. Obligations are things like the army for example and rights are to live here at all. In the elections we vote for the Prime Minister and there are lots of moaners'. (Assaf, 17)

Ohad mentioned language and religion as important in citizenship perhaps to signify commonality. In a similar way to O'Leary (1998) he views nationalism as having prescriptive implications for citizenship. There are many religions and languages spoken in Israel. Israeli citizens, as with other western countries, have many citizens originating from various parts of the world.


Education and Citizenship

School and education, which is the central aim of the Village according to the graduates, in combination with the media and the Village, has effectively transmitted the pedagogues of citizenship. When asked one interviewee what he had learnt about citizenship in school he said,

'We learnt about peoples who didn't have rights like in history. We learnt about the 'kushim' [Ethiopians]. We learnt about that and that now they have rights like all other [Israeli] citizens'. (Boris, 16)

Media and school education both add to the homogenising of the graduates understandings of citizenship. Television was the primary media source of information for the graduates with some citing radio and newspapers whilst only one mentioned the Internet.

'I study about rights and I understand them from school, from television. I know that I have the right of respect of a human and also that I have human rights in the state of Israel from the newspapers'. (Zilla, 18)

'News on television. I read newspapers. From there I know that there are many places in the world where there are no rights for citizens even in this time, those rights that everyone receives and takes for granted, that there are still people who are living in a time in the past'. (Boris, 16)

There is an international understanding of the development of citizenship. Zilla said that she goes to school in order to become a better citizen presumably so that she can eventually find work and occupy a place of responsibility and privilege within society.


Rights and personal benefits inside the Children's Village

One right that may be more specific to the Children's Village, embodies the very special relationship that is nurtured in the Village. Open-ended questions can result in unexpected remarks. Alon, 17 said he expected to receive,

'Rights of confidentiality...that if I have a problem and I tell one of the youth workers from the senior staff… that he won't go and tell… and that it will just be between me and him. This is the thing that is most important. After that food and bed and things that everyone has'.

(Alon, 17)

In the data collected from the interviews there are not many responses that explicitly mention rights in the Village as such, when the graduates were asked what they expected to receive from the Village, many of the interviewees effused about life in the Village saying over and over again, 'they give us everything'. In fact, Alon came as close as any of the interviewees came, to discussing particular rights at the Village. There was a great emphasis on duties and obligations in the Village as I have already mentioned, but the fact that rights take a subordinate role is, again, reminiscent of classical citizenship. The right of confidentiality which Alon values, is less easily transferred to outside the Village.

The rights of freedom of speech and expression, as Lior explains, are taken seriously in the Village. Holden (1998) criticises the schools who, through the introduction of student committees to allow students to have a voice, are only paying lip service to concepts of active citizenship for children. Fortin (1998), as has already been mentioned, points to the principle/practice divide for children's' rights in all areas of public life. Lior demonstrates that in the Village this is not the case, he says:

'Listen, I am a person who really likes to talk but there are many places in the Children's Village where I can say what I want. They listen to what the children think, what the children want, and deal with them'. (Lior, 16)

The Village committees are not school committees. They operate in the children's home, the children are actively involved in processes of citizenship in their home environment. Lior, however, talks about 'they'. The citizenship in which the children are active, is one not only of their own construction. The adults in the Village and also outside the Village are major players in the construction of citizenship in the Village.


Is age important?

Cockburn (1998) points out that childhood is one of the only common experiences we have, it cuts across class, gender, ethnic, ability and sexuality related divisions. He goes on to say that there is a great difference in the relationship with society and therefore access to citizenship between very young children and those approaching the age of majority (1998:108). The interviews made it clear that there are distinctions made inside the Village related to age. The graduates aged from 16 to 18 have moved out of their family homes, where they have grown up, into graduate houses. Here, youth workers living in the Village, co-ordinate with psychologists, the director of the Village, female soldiers and religious national service girls all working and living in the Village. The graduates are proud of their new rights and activities,

'Because I am more mature it's different rights than from the other members… to sleep later… in short we have more freedom'.

(Adi, 16)

Whilst all the graduates expected equality within their own peer group they are happy to accept that those younger and older may have more or less rights or obligations because one day they will all have graduate rights. The graduate rights in the Village, because they are for a group, rather than an individual older sibling, have become institutionalised.

The children of the Village are not treated as a homogenous group although in a sense there is the practice of categorisation that is so criticised outside the Village. The fact that the graduates are living separately, that they are, by their rights and obligations a distinctive part of the Village, means that their position is one to which the younger children aspire. Shmuelik, who has lived in the Village for 13 years and is soon to leave the Village, describes the differences between child and adult citizenship:

'Adults are given more respect… the reason for this is that they understand more. They have more freedom of speech and they can shout and also they have all the rights of a child. A child doesn't have freedom of speech but what does he know anyway? I don't think that in the sixth- form that a child should be able to vote. It's necessary to be at least 18… a man that knows why it's important to vote, what's happening in the world and in the state of Israel. In that way he will know what is good for him and what is not good for him'. (Shmuelik, 17½)

Shmuelik goes on to say that inside the Village he has more freedom of speech and that 'they' pay attention to him, that if he has a question, 'they' will return him an answer. A different interviewee had a more philosophical explanation for a change in rights and responsibilities with age,

'I think that with adults the difference is with their age… when you are older… your age is bigger, your rights become bigger… same thing with obligations… it depends'. (Adi, 16)

From these accounts it seems that these residents have the attitude towards citizenship, that there is a correlative relationship between citizenship rights and responsibilities, and age. Zilla feels that with age, rights change, yet there are some rights that should be for everyone,

'First of all, as a child, I do not have the right to vote… this annoys me… but there are also rights of the children that adults do not have… rights to education, rights to care, rights to play – there are all sorts of rights for everybody like freedom of mind, freedom of way, respect… all in all everyone has the same rights'. (Zilla, 18)

Citizenship and difference is a recurrent theme in these interviews. Because of the child focus in the Village, the children find it easy to accept the difference in rights between groups. The children in this context seem to accept Macedo's (1991) concept about being a potential citizen.


Duties, responsibilities, obligations

In British schools, as mini-societies, the rationale behind a school committee is that involvement in the community will '…educate children in the processes of democracy and model for them the role of the active citizen' (Holden, 1998:56). Holden points to various organisations that promote the student taking on responsibility in the community, including,

'The CSV (Community Service Volunteers) [which] anticipates that the Labour government's commitment to 'citizens' service' projects will herald citizenship education becoming a statutory part of the national curriculum with pupils enabled to do at least 1000 hours of community service during their school years (Guardian 1997)' (Holden, 1998:47).

On 9th February 2000, in Britain the orders were passed to make citizenship a statutory subject in schools in 2002 (Guardian 15/2/2000). The trend in the Children's Village, as in the British national curriculum is to encourage responsibility in future citizens. Discipline, culture, sport, education committees and the Village council were mentioned during the interviews. In the discussion of rights for freedom of speech and expression there is further discussion of student committees.

From what the Village graduates say, much of their after school time is spent not only in study but also in two hours weekly of volunteer service both in school and in the Village, in addition to regular duties in the graduate houses. The graduates feel that the Village has given them many things, is their home, and that they should not take without contributing to the Village.

Lior expressed that the obligations that are integrated into the framework are beneficial to the graduates. There are wider implications for the success of the committees system in the Children's Village other than the fact that that the children are merely allowed to contribute. This is the practice of citizenship that most theorists of child citizenship now advocate. What is more, the effectiveness of the communicative channels encourages contentment and satisfaction in the graduates, demonstrated by the enthusiasm they have for the committees and councils.

The duties graduates undertake in the Village seem to reflect their personalities and interests. Lior is head of the education committee and Na'ama has chosen to work with children, she enjoys this activity as she explains:

'There is something in the Village called 'sheruton'. This is work with small children, that I now do as independent work. I can go and look after the little children here but when I was in the mishpachtonim I was always looking after them. They would ask me for help and I would go because I have been here for a long time'. (Na'ama, 15)

In school the graduates learn about their rights and obligations as Israeli citizens and even from a young age in the family houses at the Village they are given many duties to perform. All the residents felt good about helping the Village and as a routine it has become taken for granted as this graduate remarked,

'To volunteer for something. We work in the graduate houses. After that we must do hours of volunteering, it's a part of life…. Not all the time to come here and just to sit and go to school… you need to work'.

(Yossi, 16)

There is obviously a background expectation that members of the Children's Village will perform these duties. It is necessary to explain how and why this occurs in the Children's Village at this time and question the purpose this morality fulfils in the Children's Village. We need to ask the question: what role does a certain morality play when its everyday production and maintenance is seen in terms of the logic of social relations as a whole in which individual lives are set? (Birkitt, 1991:69) The question Birkitt proposes may be translated to the situation at the Children's Village. In many other circumstances it would be difficult to explain this group morality but in a Village that is partially funded by the government it is clear from where at least some of the guidance has come. The role the volunteering aims to fulfil is manifold: it gives a feeling of full membership of the Village and prepares the members for citizenship when they leave the Village. It must also enable the staff at the Children's Village to occupy the children's time and provides an opportunity to integrate the children for a limited time in the wider community.

The obligation of national service in the Israeli army was only mentioned twice in the whole of the research. I did not prompt this as one of the interviewees' obligations because it was offered so rarely. When I remarked to an Israeli friend how surprised I had been at this she replied that these children would mostly be exempted on account of their low 'profile'. A 'profile' is the word used for a physical and psychological test, undergone by 16-18 year old male and female students, to assess their suitability for different posts in the army.


Rights to citizenship of a country

All the graduates correctly identified that one reason for a person's right to citizenship can be that they were born in that country. The case of Israel presents itself as unique in this respect however as because of the Holocaust and the modern state of Israel's tumultuous foundation a special law exists making it possible for all Jews to have Israeli citizenship called 'The Law of Return'. None of the twelve interviewees born in Israel, who are all Jewish, identified this law particularly although many mentioned that they were Jewish as one of a list of reasons when asked why they had the right to Israeli citizenship, always as an after thought as if it were obvious. The two Russian immigrant Israelis and the Ukrainian immigrant Israeli keenly felt that not only was their Jewishness the reason for their exit from Russia and the Ukraine respectively but also the reason that they have the right to Israeli citizenship. The Ukrainian girl who had been in Israel for ten years, of which were spent in the Children's Village, spoke of the anti-Semitism experienced in the Ukraine:

'I was born in the Ukraine, so there everyone used to say 'You are Jewish, you are Jewish' so because of this I have the right to live in Israel and the right to Israeli citizenship'. (Ena, 17½)

The Russian girl also held her Jewish identity as the reason for her entry into Israel:

' Because I came to this State as a Jew. I have arrived so I have the right to Israeli citizenship. I also have the right to Russian citizenship, it is enough that I was born there. I know that in other nations they have rights of a different kind'. (Zilla, 18)

These three immigrants have been in the Children's Village for almost all of the time they have been in Israel, they expressed that they felt more belonging to the Village rather than to the State. Taylor (1998:23), notes that society is in some ways a homogenous culture to which people need to be inducted, and this has special relevance for the Ukrainian and Russian graduates. Not only are they being educated as potential Israeli citizens in the way that O'Leary (1998) discusses but they are immigrants to Israel. It is easier for them to feel a sense of belonging locally in the Village culture than in Israel more generally.


Democracy, Bureaucracy

The members of the Children's Village (although some more than others), are engaged in what attempts to be a highly structured form of democracy. It takes the form of committees including discipline, sport, culture, education and the more general Village council. Seven out of the fifteen interviewees were members of the Village committees. In addition, all the graduates carry out hours of volunteering each week. Those members who are not sitting on one of these committees can find out what is happening in the Village through friends, staff and general meetings,

inside the village there is something called ‘midon hacfar’ about the news in the Village. If I want I can go to hear what they say and also there is a council on the Village and I have a friend who sits on the council. If I tell her that I am missing out on something then she will put it forward’. (Na’ama, 15)

Na’ama talks here about ‘midon hacfar’ this is an information meeting about the news of the Children’s Village. This transmitting of first hand information means a direct relationship with the bureaucratic structure in the Village. There are others who do not wish to take part in the committees. Their opportunities are not restricted because of this and they still do their hours of volunteering which they seem to be enthusiastic about. What echoes the sentiments of many of the interviewees is that one graduate said,

‘I don’t like to be voting all the time, even more I don’t like to argue but I guess it’s a democratic state’. (Boris, 16)

Beck (1998), talks of the importance of socialisation and deed for the practice of citizenship in the family and the understanding of democratic rules. Boris is talking about the fact that he does not wish to participate in the committees within the Village. By saying it’s a democratic state he is transferring the democratic experience he has had in the Village to the outside of the Village.

It may be that in the future Boris will not be highly involved in politics but the fact that he feels that it is a democratic state, that he understands the meaning of democracy, is really positive. Yet there is a flaw in the fact that there is such easy access to democracy at the Village that it may become taken for granted. Taylor (1998), believes that individuals participate in citizenship because of the directness of the relationship they have with the state and because economic agents enter into ‘contractual relations with others on an equal footing’ (Taylor, 1998:197). The directness of access outside the Village is dubious and so is the idea that these graduates, now leaving the Children’s Village as ‘economic agents’, will have any kind of equal footing with the wider community. By bringing theory and practice together with socialisation and deed, the Village and by implication the funding bodies, may have encouraged a naivety. The graduates are fearful that one kind of environment is so different to the one that they are about to enter. These ‘potential’ citizens do not feel distance to citizenship even considering their age.


Inclusion and exclusion in the Children's Village compared with the outside world

Residents of the village seen to feel part of the social processes that surround them. Freedom of speech was felt to be in abundance inside the Village and also outside. There is also a feeling that these graduates have grown up in the Village and know their community well. They feel secure and empowered inside the Village and are aware that the wider society will not have the support structure of the Village.

'Here if I have a problem there are many people who are able to help me. Every member of staff wants to help me. They have already known me for many years so they care that I will succeed. This is impossible in the city. They don't know me in the city so they won't pay attention to me'. (Boris, 16)

This sentiment is expressed again and again and it is clear that these graduates soon to leave the Village do not feel the citizenship they will participate in, in the future will be of the same quality.

Children in this social group of the Children's Village are not excluded. They are full members of the community, reasonable, rational and autonomous. Outside the Village children are treated differently, as the 'other', in the same way that other social groups are marginalized. Outside the Village,

'Children are almost everything that the non-citizen is: they are irrational, incapable, undeveloped or dependent and are defined in terms of what they are not, that is adult, responsible, rational and autonomous'. (Cockburn, 1998:107)

When these graduates leave the Children's Village they will be adults. Boris anticipates his exclusion from society even though he will be adult. For him it is no longer a question of his age that will mean exclusion from aspects of citizenship, it is fear from the fact that he must establish a relationship with institutions in society which do not operate on personal relationships.

As I have mentioned Part One, the guillotine on childhood is problematic in a global sense. Children all over the world are not the western idealised, protected, cared for child. The members of the Village, having joined, do have full voting rights should they wish, and this is particularly poignant considering the backgrounds from which these children come. When speaking to these graduates, the level of maturity is astonishing, as I believe is demonstrated by the responses they have given. In the Village their maturity is dignified by providing graduate housing in the centre of the Village. As I have mentioned, full membership of the Village, a child focus and membership of other groups within the Village gives a feeling of inclusion. According to the graduates there is no feeling of exclusion because the Village is their family and home. As I have explained, the graduates will probably not enter the army/national service because of their 'profile'. This is the second institution that most school leavers join and experience, and in a sense the graduates will be excluded from this socialisation and deed that is so important in Israeli society.



The objectives of this piece of research have been fulfilled through a study of attitudes to citizenship, in a small cohort of 16-18 year old residents in the Children's Village. They live with foster parents in a Village environment. This group of children show a strong sense of local and national identity. They receive citizenship training at school although they stress the various rights and obligations of citizenship differently, they all appear to have a strong sense of belonging through citizenship. This would not necessarily be the case for other children raised differently in Israel, growing up with their natural parents in cities, small towns or villages. Nor are the findings directly applicable to the situation in the UK. At a time when the government has recently established citizenship as a national curriculum item in response to a perceived apathy of active citizenship in older children and young adults it is reasonable to consider models in other countries.

The members of the Village say that they have a strong sense of citizenship inside the Village. The citizenship at the Village is facilitated by the fact that social relationships are local and members of the Village live in close proximity to the adults who make many of the decisions in the Village. Macedo (1991) notes that classical citizenship also operated in a locality. There is a child focus in the Children's Village which should mean that the children are not a marginalized group within the Village. There is often a divide between the principle of children's rights and what is actually practised in the wider community. It may be possible to speculate that the principle/practice divide is narrower in the Children's Village.

Not only is there a dominant familial ideology in the Village but the homogeneity of the set up at the Village must be unparalleled. The homogenous culture influenced by the adults in the community, does not mean that the residents of the Village undergo false categorisation which is often a criticism of both traditional villages and pluralism in citizenship. A few of the graduates mentioned that although they all receive the same rights, the children are all different, and all require different kinds of attention.

It would be wrong to claim that there is a certain type of citizenship operating in the Children's Village. Broadly speaking, the graduates understanding of the citizenship is very rich. These understandings have come from the Village, school, and the media, television in particular. Finally, the Village, very obviously, has created an environment based on values of citizenship and democracy, which are effectively transmitted in a way that may be impossible outside the Village.



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Deborah Bloomberg is 22 and is working as an occupational therapy assistant at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queens Square, London. She has a bachelors degree in Sociology from Leicester University. Deborah has experience as a volunteer, an intern and a youth leader in England and Israel. She was disability officer of the students union during her time at university and has drawn upon her experiences and interest in community service, one aspect of this research project.

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