Utopia in Zion

The Israeli Experience with Worker Cooperatives

By Raymond Russell

Subjects: Comparative Economics
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791424445, 330 pages, July 1995
Hardcover : 9780791424438, 330 pages, July 1995

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Tables

List of Figures


1. Worker Cooperatives in Israel's Labor Economy

2. The Formation and Dissolution of Worker Cooperatives in Israel, 1924-1992
with Robert Hanneman

3. The Use of Hired Labor in Israeli Worker Cooperatives, 1933-1989
with Robert Hanneman

4. Democracy and Oligarchy in Israeli Worker Cooperatives

5. Israel's Labor Economy between Crisis and Collapse

6. Do Israeli Worker Cooperatives Have a Future As Well As a Past?

Appendix. Israeli Worker Cooperatives 1924-1933




A historical, sociological, and economic analysis of urban worker cooperatives in contemporary Israel.


Although less famous than Israel's cooperative agricultural settlements, the kibbutzim and moshavim, Israeli urban worker cooperatives have an equally long and rich history. Well over a thousand such organizations have been established in what is now Israel since early in this century. This book provides a historical, social, and economic analysis of contemporary urban worker cooperatives, focusing on processes affecting their formation and dissolution, their use of nonmember labor, and the evolution of their democratic decision-making practices over time.

Raymond Russell examines these cooperatives for the light they can shed on worker ownerships and worker cooperatives in general, and on Israeli society in particular. Applying a range of sociological and economic theories to examine the dynamics of these organizations over time, he finds that both their formation and their later development have been strongly influenced by the uniquely utopian social and economic conditions that prevailed in Jewish Palestine in the first half of the twentieth century.

Raymond Russell is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of Sharing Ownership in the Workplace, also published by SUNY Press.


"This is a fresh, objective analysis of several extremely complicated issues. I particularly like the author's ability to examine his topic from a variety of perspectives: historical, political, and sociological. The narrative portions of the book are outstanding. The author writes well and addresses significant problems well beyond the immediate context of the study. The topic is significant and timely. Workplaces throughout the world, including the U.S., are undergoing major change, and the book explores with sensitivity the sometimes ambiguous relationship between democratic workplace practices and economic success and failure. There are lessons here for all of us." — Morris L. Fried, University of Connecticut