Cultural identity and adaptation in an assimilative setting: Immigrant soldiers from the former Soviet Union in Israel

Uzi Ben Shalom, Gabriel Horenczyk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


In this study, the military served as a specific arena for the contextual examination of the relationship between immigrants' cultural identity and adjustment. Our investigation was grounded in the recent literature suggesting that cultural identity, adaptation, and the relationship between them are affected by contextual factors. We see the military in general, and the Israeli army in particular, as a highly assimilative context. We therefore predicted that national identity would significantly promote immigrant's adaptation. Three hundred and sixty-five young soldiers who had recently immigrated from the former Soviet Union and serving their compulsory military service in the Israeli Defense Forces, completed anonymous questionnaires. Our findings revealed that national identity was indeed positively related to adjustment, especially adjustment to the military setting. In contrast, ethnic identity was not correlated with adjustment. When classified into acculturation categories, according to Berry's bi-dimensional model, individuals in both the "marginalization" and the "separation" groups exhibited low levels of adaptation. Common to these two strategies is the rejection of host culture. Three factors - language abilities, sources of cohesion and goals in service - were examined as possible mediators for the effects of national identity on the immigrants' adjustment to military service. National identity was shown to affect adaptation partially through sources of cohesion and goals in service. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)461-479
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Adaptation
  • Assimilation
  • Identity-cultural
  • Immigrant
  • Military acculturation


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