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Cooperating with the Enemy: Purpose-Driven Boundary Maintenance in Palestine 1967-2016 Open Access

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Cooperation between members of subordinate and dominant national groups under conditions of alien rule is routine: rulers demand it, and the ruled – willingly or unwillingly – supply it. Yet the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable cooperation – what I term interactional norms - vary. Scholars have yet to explain how and why cooperation varies under military occupation, colonial rule, or other cases of asymmetric power relations between distinct identity groups. This study fills that gap by assessing fluctuations in Palestinian cooperation with Israel from 1967-2016, building a theory of Purpose-Driven Boundary Maintenance. It process-traces a causal story, beginning with leadership dynamics, working through social purpose, and noting distinct and probable outcomes around interactional norms. Social purpose – the shared goals of a group that create obligations to behave in ways that aim at achieving collective goals - is considered a necessary condition for realizing clear interactional boundaries for subordinate groups under alien rule. Social purpose is triggered with cohesive leadership, producing sharp interactional norms and encouraging norm-compliance. When national strategy aims toward diplomacy, interactional norms will be positive (promoting cooperative relations with the dominant group), and compliance will be high. When national strategy aims at resistance, interactional norms will be negative (prohibiting certain interactions with the dominant group), and compliance will be moderate. Fragmented leadership, on the other hand, fails to trigger social purpose, resulting in social anomie. Where compliance exists, it is sporadic and isolated from a cohesive national strategy. This study draws on 2 years of fieldwork and process-traces changes in Palestinian interactional norms from 1967-2016, highlighting critical junctures and explaining shifts in five major phases of contestation: (1) The beginning of occupation – 1967-1987 (2) the first intifada – 1987-1993 (2) the Oslo years – 1994-2000 (3) the second intifada – 2000-2006 (4) and the post-inqisam years – 2006-2014.

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