Learning from failures: Why and how "scale shift" failed to launch - evidence from the case of the Israeli-Arab land day

Eitan Y. Alimi*, Liora Norwich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The extent to which opposition movements engaged in contention are able to broaden the scope of their struggle has garnered the attention of scholars of ethnic conflict, social movements, and contentious politics alike. The ability to broaden the scope of contention is known as scale shift. It is of paramount importance in cases of ethnonationalist movements, given the nature of their claims and the oppressive and repressive sociopolitical setting in which they are often situated. Our study advances social movement theory by developing a more nuanced understanding of the process by analyzing rich historical evidence from a failed attempt of scale shift: the case of Israeli-Arab 1976 Land Day. Utilizing Tarrow and McAdam's (2003) model, we analyze scale shift and its constituent mechanisms of brokerage and diffusion as they operate across different political opportunity structures and encounter different levels and types of repression. Based on our findings, we modify the model by highlighting a set of intermediary mechanisms, namely individualization, segmentation, resource restriction, exclusion, co-optation, defection, and internalization/externalization. We argue that these intermediary mechanisms largely account for the failure of scale shift in the specific repressive settings of the Arab minority in Israel.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)35-66
Number of pages32
JournalResearch in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change
StatePublished - 2010


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