Cultural adaptation–between the cultural and the political: youth work in Israel’s unrecognised Bedouin villages

Maya Tsfati, Yochay Nadan*, Michal Komem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article examines a programme for Bedouin youth in the unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Naqab/Negev desert in Israel, as a case study of the cultural adaptation and implementation of Westernised youth programmes among indigenous minority groups. Our analysis, based on an exploratory qualitative study that probes the accounts of 11 professionals involved in the project, 10 of whom are Bedouin, indicates that the facilitation of youth centres is related to 2 dimensions: cultural and political. Although the programme was shown to successfully address complex cultural aspects of the Bedouin community in the adaptation process and in daily routines (e.g. cultural values and norms), it does not address the political context in which the community lives. The programme thus articulates a social recognition of the particular needs of this population, yet does not promote social activism in a way that might challenge existing social hierarchies and power relations. Therefore, the change promoted by the programme is restricted to maintaining the existing social order. Our findings call for a politicising of the discourses of ‘cultural adaptation’ in order to promote social justice for oppressed groups.

Translated title of the contributionהתאמה תרבותית–בין התרבותי לפוליטי: עבודת נוער בכפרים הבדואים הבלתי מוכרים בנגב
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)16-27
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Bedouins
  • informal youth work
  • social service development
  • unrecognised villages
  • youth centres


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