"I didn't ask 2 be Palestinian, I just got lucky": A study of actors’ influence on Palestinians’ collective identity

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen; Lunds universitet/Master of Science in Development Studies; Lunds universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: Identity is formed in the understanding of the self and others, and it is also a consequence of how people perceive the world. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate which actors besides Israel individual Palestinians identify as significant for their understanding of their collective identity. The purpose is also to analyze how these actors have influenced Palestinians’ understanding of their collective identity, and their relationship to it. The data was collected through 10 semi-structured interviews with Palestinians living in the West Bank. The collected data was then analyzed in reference to the social identity perspective, which is a perspective within social psychology that aims at understanding identity formation in relation to social context. The findings suggest three types of significant “others”: international actors, Arab governments, and Palestinian political actors. These three types of significant others were experienced as non-supportive of the Palestinian cause. The reaction to the non-supportive context can be described in two ways: individualization of identity, and the formation of an activist identity based on international grassroot support.

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