The rise and fall of the Palestinian-Arab middle class under the British mandate, 1920-39

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The Palestinian-Arab middle class under the Mandate may be characterized as bourgeois and educated, similarly to bourgeois classes that have developed in the West in the Modern era. The bourgeois characteristics of the Palestinian-Arab middle class, and their influence on its historical trajectory during the Mandate era, have not been studied in depth yet. This article aims to focus on a local aspect of the rise of the middle class in the region in that period: the rise of the Palestinian-Arab middle class under the Mandate, until the Palestinian-Arab Revolt (1936-9). The main hypothesis is that particular bourgeois social and cultural characteristics prevented the middle class full incorporation into the Palestinian-Arab National Movement, and even led to estrangement between the middle class and the national leadership, as well as members of lower strata, especially the villagers. Members of the middle class, mostly Christians but Muslims as well, espoused in their daily life modern habits, ideas, and customs, as a means to distinguish between themselves and other classes, similarly to their parallels in the West, and like their contemporaries elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, as has demonstrated by Watenpaugh. Those gaps reached their climax during the years of revolt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-506
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© SAGE Publications.


  • Arab
  • Christian
  • Mandate
  • Palestinians
  • bourgeois
  • middle class


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