This article examines the connection between state ethnic classifications and the way they are perceived by individuals in everyday life. Using the case of the Boarding School for the Gifted Disadvantaged in Israel which is open to immigrants, an attempt was made to reach an understanding of how individuals who have experienced deliberate state intervention in the ethnic component of their selfhood, experience this intervention years after the (re)construction. The main findings illuminate how boarding school graduates transformed the governmental intervention into a unique ethnic identity for everyday life: ‘ethnicity without ethnicity’. This identity rejects any overt engagement with the ethnic component of the concept of self. This identity even relies on the subject’s constant reminders to himself that ‘he is beyond the ethnic story’ and that meritocratic identity (devoid of ethnic consciousness) is preferable to ascriptive identity. The findings also show that ethnic identity is not necessarily expressed in everyday practices (language, food consumption, music, festivals) but rather in ongoing cognitive engagement of the agent distanced from the available official ethnic classifications. The discussion section tracks the state-organizational sources of this ethnic identity and its relation to the unmarked ethnicity amongst the upper-middle classes.
Gonen, Amiram. “Widespread and Diverse Forms of Gentrification in Israel.” In Global Gentrifications: Uneven Development and Displacement (ed. Loretta Lees,Hyun Bang Shin,and Ernesto Lopez-Morales; Bristol, UK and Chicago, IL: Policy Press, 2015): 143-63.
My ongoing observations over the last three decades on patterns of gentrification in Israeli inner cities, suburban towns and rural communities have led me to view gentrification from a different geographical perspective to the one shared by many Western researchers writing on gentrification. Research on gentrification originated in the heart of some Western cities and, therefore, gentrification was often characterised as primarily an inner-urban phenomenon. It was first observed and defined in an academic fashion in inner London and subsequently studied in the 1980s and early 1990s in the inner city of some North American and British cities. Indeed, the settling of middle class households in lower-social class neighbourhoods of the inner city has achieved sizeable proportions in Western cities since the 1970s.
The Israeli experience raises the issue of the need to widen the scope of the term ‘gentrification’ beyond lower-class neighbourhoods. This definitional widening is especially relevant to middle-class neighbourhoods in the inner city that have undergone some social downscaling, later reversed due to the return of middle-class households. I suggest that this return of such neighbourhoods to being again solidly middle-class areas should be included within the definition of gentrification as a special category of ‘regentrification’, added to the one proposed as ‘supergentrification’ for the further gentrification of already-gentrified neighbourhoods by the very rich global elites.
This article asks why middle-class Israeli seculars have recently begun to engage with Jewish religiosity. We use the case of the Jewish New Age (JNA) as an example of the middle class’s turn from a nationalised to a spiritualised version of Judaism. We show, by bringing together the sociology of religion’s interest in emerging spiritualities and cultural sociology’s interest in social class, how after Judaism was deemed socially significant in identity-based struggles for recognition, Israeli New Agers started culturalising and individualising Jewish religiosity by constructing it in a spiritual, eclectic, emotional and experiential manner. We thus propose that what may be seen as cultural and religious pluralism is, in fact, part of a broader system of class reproduction.