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The Ostrich effect: Social representations of Immigrants’ identity by native adolescents and by immigrants from Ethiopian and the former USSR Adi Mana.

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Presentation on theme: "The Ostrich effect: Social representations of Immigrants’ identity by native adolescents and by immigrants from Ethiopian and the former USSR Adi Mana."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ostrich effect: Social representations of Immigrants’ identity by native adolescents and by immigrants from Ethiopian and the former USSR Adi Mana & Emda Orr Ben Gurion University, Israel

2 The research aim To investigate how members of a host- majority group,Jewish adolescents in Israel, and their immigrant peers from Ethiopia and the former USSR, represent the immigrants’ identity within a context of shared schooling.

3 Immigration in the Israeli context Immigration is an integral part of Israel’s social and cultural context. It is extensively discussed by Israeli society members and by the media. Unlike many other immigrant societies, immigration to Israel is viewed as a kind of repatriation.

4 This ideological and official representations indicated that the immigrants should gain an equal and a similar social status as their hosts. Socially, however, during the earlier days of Israel as a country, the immigrants were expected to be assimilated into the Israeli society by accepting its identity symbols, and giving up their original ones. Only by that, they could change their lower social status.

5 From the Eighties and onwards, we find a change in these kinds of representations and a multicultural ideology regarding immigration was developed hand in hand with that of assimilation.

6 In the last two decades, immigration to Israel was about a sixth of the hosts population. Most of them came from the former USSR and the minority came from Ethiopia

7 Differences between the Ethiopian and the Former Soviet Union Immigrants Group size: 60,000 vs. 1,000,000 (about a fifth of the Jewish population in Israel) African Semi-nomadic tribes vs. highly educated European industrial backgrounds Visual differences from the host majority vs. visual similarity

8 In spite the differences between the two immigrant groups, both groups confronted the same host society; members of both were exposed, to some extent, to similar representations through the mass media and through communication with each other and with the host society in diverse contexts they have the opportunity to construct shared social representations regarding immigrants identity

9 Identity representations representations which locate a group and its members (immigrants) compared to other sections within a society (host society) (Breakwell, 2001; Duveen, 2001)

10 We will focus on two central aspects of immigrant identity representations within the Israeli context: representations of social status ( Social Identity Theory; Tajfel, 1981 ) representations of acculturation ( Berry, 1984 )

11 METHOD Participants 1,626, high school students aged 14-16, studying in ninth and tenth grades across Israel. Of these, 854 (495 girls) were students from the host society who were born in Israel, 241 (148 girls) of Ethiopian origin and 531 (326 girls) born in the former Soviet Union

12 Instruments The Immigrant Identity Questionnaire (IIQ) is three versions (for Immigrants from Ethiopia and from the FUSSR, and for the hosts) combined of 42 items, Likert-style (1=highly wrong to 4=highly correct). The items were locally adapted combined version of Berry’s scale for tapping five acculturation attitudes (Berry et al.1989) and of seven identity strategies derived from the Social Identity Theory (Blanz et al, 1998)

13 The Immigrants were asked to refer to themselves, while the hosts were asked in regard to their attributions to the Immigrant students The questionnaire was administered during 2002 in a one-hour class session.

14 RESULTS A similar two dimensional construction of the IIQ items appeared on the SSA maps (Guttman, 1968) of each of the research groups. Four regions of semantic commonality were identified

15 SSA map of the Ethiopian sample SSA map of the host sample SSA map of the FUSSR sample

16 Extended identity Representing the intergroup encounter as an enrichment of the Immigrant's self and social identity. The immigrants sense own strength and competence and simultaneously are willing to accept new identity symbols from the host society.

17 Rivalry Identity Representing the immigrants as ready to fight for more public resources and for enhancement of their social power

18 Secluded Identity Representing the immigrants students as willing to separate themselves from the host society; separation may either be the result of rejection by the hosts or the immigrants self-motivation.

19 Identity Loss Representing the immigrant students as wish to be assimilated into Israeli society, but sense a failure in surrendering their original identity and in adopting the symbols of the local society.

20 The findings indicated that in spite of their distinct social positioning and distinct cultural background, host, Ethiopian and FUSSR students who shared a school constructed the immigrant identity by similar shared representations. However, group differences were found regarding the strength of the four representations.

21 The results of two-ways ANOVA showed that host students just like their immigrants peers constructed the immigrants identities as multicultural (We can see that for each of the research groups, the Extended Identity was the highest, and significantly different from the other identities) However, the host students attributed to the immigrants students significantly lower Extended and Rivalry identities and higher Secluded and Identity Loss identities compared to the immigrants self- attributions


23 Interpretation Extended and Rivalry identities mean the empowerment of the minority group. The Extended identity meaning is that the immigrant students look for their empowerment by identification with the representations of the majority without a diminish in the strength of their original identity. By Rivalry identity the immigrants fight for general recognition of their specific identity symbols as much as for more public resources

24 On the other hand, Secluded identity and Identity loss are less likely to mean social empowerment; Secluded identity means enclosure within one’s society with its conventional lower social status, and Identity loss means excepting one’s lower status and marginalization The host students under-rated identity representations reflecting immigrants social empowerment and over-rated identity representations reflecting immigrants acceptance of their lower social status

25 The Ostrich effect

26 The “Ostrich effect” It seems that the host students, just like the ostrich, refuse to acknowledge the extent of the immigrant minority empowerment. Two interpretations seem viable: 1. The biased attributions result from a sense of threat involved in a situation in which the immigrants tend to replace hosts in the social hierarchy, and perhaps they would change the contemporary Israeli culture 2. The biased attributions result from sense of superiority, with its devaluation of the power of the immigrant societies The answer as to which of these interpretations, if any, is appropriate, needs to be investigated further in the future

27 The findings may indicate an answer to the question of whether the shared immigrants and host representational express a “new” multicultural ideology, And the answer is that the “old” representations regarding the host superiority over the immigrants are still dominant, as featured by the findings regarding the representational system.

28 Thank you

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