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Group identity and social closeness: Secular and Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israeli academic institutions

Yaffa Moskovich (Zefat Academic College, Zefat, Israel)
Ido Liberman (Western Galilee College, Akko, Israel)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 9 April 2018




The purpose of this paper is to study examine the social identity of Ultra-Orthodox students enrolled in institutions of higher learning in Israel, and specifically the ways in which the identity of Ultra-Orthodox students who interact with other groups on campus compares to the identity of self-segregated Ultra-Orthodox students. Traditionally, Ultra-Orthodox students have preferred self-segregated educational institutions. Today, however increasing numbers of Ultra-Orthodox Jews are enrolling in regular academic institutions. Although they study in separate, homogeneous classrooms, they interact with secular students within the framework of the institution.


A four-part questionnaire dealing with attributions, feelings, personal identities, and social proximity was administered to the Ultra-Orthodox students.


As hypothesized, the students in self-segregated institutions exhibited a different identity than the students in secular institutions. Contrary to the hypotheses, the self-segregated students had positive feelings toward secular Israeli students and a greater desire for social proximity than the more integrated group. Explanations center on structural identity theory.


In this naturalistic study, the encounters between Ultra-Orthodox students and other students in their academic institution were random, unplanned, and unmonitored, unlike previous studies of intergroup relations in institutions of higher education. These students were not involved in cooperative tasks, which theoretically could help improve the relationships between Ultra-Orthodox and secular students.



Moskovich, Y. and Liberman, I. (2018), "Group identity and social closeness: Secular and Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israeli academic institutions", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 38 No. 3/4, pp. 259-279.



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