Immigration and Ethnic Formation in a Deeply Divided Society: The Case of the 1990s Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel

Immigration and Ethnic Formation in a Deeply Divided Society: The Case of the 1990s Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel

Immigration and Ethnic Formation in a Deeply Divided Society: The Case of the 1990s Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel

Immigration and Ethnic Formation in a Deeply Divided Society: The Case of the 1990s Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel

Synopsis

This book deals with the ethnic formation among the 1990s immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel, in light of both domestic changes, and developments in the Israel- Arab conflict. Based on a broad variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, the book presents a detailed analysis of identity patterns among these immigrants, their orientation in matters of religion, society, culture and politics, and their relationships with all the constituent groups in Israeli society including the Palestinian minority. The book provides a new critical perspective on questions of immigration, ethnicity and society in Israel. The analysis is placed in a global theoretical context that challenges the dominant approach in the sociology of immigration in Israel, which is based on the Zionist paradigm.

Excerpt

Ethnicity has become a major source of social and political mobilization in contemporary societies. Both developing and developed societies offer increasing evidence of the resurgence of ethnicity and the conversion of ethnic affiliation into an effective instrument for social and political mobilization. Confuting traditional approaches, which expected that the power and importance of ethnicity would decline, ethnic-group boundaries are becoming more conspicuous and meaningful.

With the collapse of the bipolar world system after 1989, internal conflicts based on ethnicity, nationalism, or ethnic nationalism have gradually replaced external conflicts between countries (see Rex 1999: 269). The end of the Cold War was one of the main factors in the acceleration of domestic ethnic conflicts within states. The sense of stability created by the “new world order” opened the way for a “new ethnic order” inside countries, as groups sought to employ their ethnic affinity to influence this order and protect their interests in the new setting (Gurr and Harff 1994).

There is abundant evidence that globalization has strengthened, rather than weakened, ethnic identities and ethnic-based organization. The drastic changes in communication, transportation, and other technologies that marked the twentieth century, including the creation of global markets, brought the people of the world closer, redrew traditional socio-geographic boundaries, and created more interest in ethnic and racial boundaries (Banton 1998: 235).

Immigration flows are thought to be one of the major sources for the development of ethnic conflict. These flows may be caused by ethnic conflict in the country of origin, but they may also generate a new conflict with other groups in the receiving society. Such conflict becomes significant when immigrants use their group boundaries as a means for collective action or as an instrument for social and political mobilization. Immigration may also affect the power system in the receiving society by altering its ethno-demographic structure. This is especially true in ethno-national states with an exclusive ethnic . . .

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