Space and Relationships between Rural Communities and Extractive Industry in Sodom Square, Israel

  • Bilha Givon Program of Conflict Management and Resolution, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
  • Avinoam Meir Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
  • Orna Braun-Lewensohn Program of Conflict Management and Resolution, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Keywords: geographical entities, rural community, industry, relationality, relationships, nature of space, Dead Sea.


Non-agricultural geographical entities become increasingly prevalent in rural spaces. In certain areas these entities include extractive industries. Their relationships with the local communities can shape the nature of this space. As the relationality paradigm provides a conceptual framework for understanding space, we employ some of its notions in understanding this space through these relationships. We examine the evolution of relationships between Dead Sea Works and Sodom Square communities in Israel over time as a vehicle for understanding changes in the nature of rural space. The qualitative methodology analyses five-year minutes of a forum established between these entities and interviews with community members and corporate senior officials. The analysis reveals stages in the evolution of relationships in this space from alienation to friction and negotiation and then to cooperation. Accordingly, the nature of space has transformed from stressfully prescriptive to willfully-negotiative and then to trustfully-collaborative. This study carries specific implications for understanding the nature of space produced by the relationships between rural communities and extractive industries, and more generally to analyzing the role of community-industry relationships in shaping metropolitan spaces.


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