University of Sussex
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A comparison of the religious outlook and practices of two generations of Masorti Jews in Israel: a Bourdieusian analysis

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posted on 2023-06-09, 09:30 authored by Yizhar Hess
This study provides a small-scale comparative analysis of the religious outlook and practice of two generational groups of Masorti Jews in Israel. Conducted from an insider perspective, it aims to provide insights into changes of religious outlook and practices between the two generations. The first-generation participants comprised immigrants from North America whereas the second-generation participants were born and raised in Israel. Its results are mat to inform and support the future development of Masorti Judaism in Israel while also making an original contribution to sociological knowledge about the lived experiences of religiously motivated migrations from a generational perspective. The research adopts a pragmatic, predominantly qualitative approach, utilizing the Bourdieusian concepts of habitus, doxa, field, and capital to better understand how religious outlook and practices were sustained and transmitted across generations. The use of the Bourdieusian theory has provided a framework for structuring and conceptualizing day-to-day behaviors, actions and statements, as presented in the interviews, and for developing an analysis of the different fields which each generational group encountered, the ways that different forms of capital were valued and transformed, and how this affected interviewees’ habitus. Data were gathered from interviews with nine members of the first generation and eight members of the second generation. The data relating to second generation participants were ultimately supplemented by a short questionnaire completed by thirty additional members of the same generation. The Bourdieusian analysis has provided a holistic approach that illuminated important differences in religious outlook and practices between the generational groups. The first generation group had generally tried to maintain the religious outlook and practice with which they came to Israel. They also created new congregations and institutions to sustain and perpetuate them. The second-generation participants displayed a reduced commitment to Jewish law and religious-communal structures. Both generational groups shared a strong commitment to Jewish activism as a feature of their Jewish outlook, although this outlook was carried out in different ways.


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