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Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology, The

Theory, Ideology, and Identity

Uri Ram

Publication Year: 1995

Offers the first systematic and comprehensive overview of sociological thought in Israel, and pleads for a new agenda that would shift the focus from nation building to democratic and egalitarian citizenship formation. This study explores the changing agenda of Israeli sociology by linking content with context and by offering a historically informed critique of sociology as a theory and as a social institution. It examines, on the one hand, the general theoretical perspectives brought to bear upon sociological studies of Israel and, on the other, the particular social and ideological persuasions with which these studies are imbued. Ram shows how the agenda of Israeli sociology has changed in correlation with major political transformations in Israel: the long-term hegemony of the Labor Movement up to the 1967 war; the crisis of the labor regime following the 1973 war; and the ascendance of the right wing to governmental power in 1977. Three stages in Israeli sociology, corresponding to these political transformations, are identified: the domination of a functionalist school from the 1950s to the 1970s; a crisis in the mid-1970s; and the profusion of alternative and competing perspectives since the late 1970s. Ram concludes with a plea for a new sociological agenda that would shift the focus from nation building to democratic and egalitarian citizenship formation. This book offers the first systematic and comprehensive overview of sociological thought in Israel, and by doing so offers a unique interpretation of the social and intellectual history of Israel.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Front Matter

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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LIST OF TABLES

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pp. ix-x

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PROLOGUE

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pp. xi-xii

This study explores the changing agenda of Israeli sociology by linking content with context and offers what Alvin Gouldner calls "an historically informed critique of sociology as a theory and as a social institution." It examines, on the one hand, the general theoretical perspectives brought to bear upon sociological studies of Israel, and, on the other, the particu-...

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CHAPTER I. Introduction: Content in Context

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pp. 1-6

This study inquires into the sociography of Israel. It draws the intellectual contours of Israeli sociological discourse and the images of Israeli society refracted through this prism. It charts the past trajectory and current layout of the sociological discourse in Israel, describing and interpreting its formation and subsequent transformations, and critically ...

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CHAPTER 2. Paradigm, Crisis, Revolution: The Trajectory of Israeli Sociology

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pp. 7-22

This chapter discusses the nature of the transformation of the Israeli sociological agenda as a whole and situates this process within the context of social processes exterior and interior to the sociological discipline. First, it suggests a modified Kuhnian approach to account for the historical dynamic of the sociological discourse. Second, it discusses the correspon-...

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CHAPTER 3. The Nation-Building School: Functionalism

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pp. 23-46

During the first two and a half decades of the state of Israel the sociological discourse in the country had been utterly dominated by a single perspective. The grand theory it espoused was functionalism, and its analysis of Israel was framed in the modernization perspective, or, more specifically, in the nation-building perspective. Due to its focus upon value-consensus it ...

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CHAPTER 4. The Vicissitudes of a Paradigm: Functionalism Revised and Revisited

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pp. 47-68

This chapter discusses a diverse body of sociological works, from a period stretching since the late 1960s to the end of the 1980s. The common denominator of these works is that they represent various phases in the trajectory of the functionalist sociological agenda. The first phase in this trajectory was the rise and consolidation of the agenda. This phase reached ...

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CHAPTER 5. "The Shadowy Side of Politics": Elitism

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pp. 69-96

The core assumption of functionalist sociology is that society is an ordered and consensual system structured to function best in the interest of maintaining itself vis-a-vis its environment. From this perspective Israeli society was interpreted as a highly coordinated and adaptive social system based on value consensus guided by the nation-building elite of ...

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CHAPTER 6. Beyond the Melting Pot: Pluralism

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pp. 97-118

By the 1970s a new generation of sociologists had come of age. Graduating from American and other Western universities rather than from The Hebrew University, they could exercise their own normative judgments and determine their own theoretical preferences. Also coming of age was a new generation of Israelis of Mizrahi origins, a "second generation,"...

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CHAPTER 7. "Developed to Be Underdeveloped": Marxism

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pp. 119-148

Pluralism is an agenda of mediation and compromise, the concern of which is the amelioration of the status of underprivileged social groups in society. Radicalism is an agenda of contention and struggle, the concern of which is the transformation of the social structure. An American anthology from 1971 introduces "radical sociology" as follows:...

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CHAPTER 8. "Telling the Untold Tale": Feminism

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pp. 149-170

Feminist sociology is yet another academic offshoot of the New Left and Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. Since the 1970s feminist scholarship has progressively broken new theoretical grounds and has become one of the most prolific and vigorous branches of social and cuItural studies in academia (for instructive discussions and references to feminist thought, ...

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CHAPTER 9. "A Late Instance of European Overseas Expansion": Colonization

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pp. 171-196

The further we move on our continuum away from the mainstream nation-building perspective, the more critical and radical the sociological perspective becomes. The more critical and radical it is, the more it is rejected by mainstream academic discourse. Accordingly, the last trend to be examined in this study, the colonization trend, presents the clearest...

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CHAPTER 10. Conclusion: Sociology in Society

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pp. 197-204

We have studied in this book the constitution and transformation of the Israeli sociological agenda since the inception of sociology as a distinct academic discipline in the early days of the state and up to the early 1990s. We started with the historical and social contexts of this transformation (chapter 2) and devoted most of the book (chapters 3 through 9) to a ...

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EPILOGUE. Towards a Post-Zionist Sociology

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pp. 205-208

Since the initiation of sociology as an academic discipline in Israel in the 1950s the small, cohesive, and monolithic sociological community has expanded, decentered, and diversified; the ideological commitments of sociologists have shifted from complacency towards the elite to a growing concern for the claims of nondominant groups; the theoretical orienta-...

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 209-228

INDEX

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pp. 229-232


E-ISBN-13: 9781438416816
E-ISBN-10: 1438416814
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791423011
Print-ISBN-10: 0791423018

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 1995

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Series Editor Byline: Russell Stone