'Intelligentsia' as an ethnic habitus: The inculcation and restructuring of intelligentsia among Russian Jews

Tamar Rapoport*, Edna Lomsky-Feder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This study employs Bourdieu's concept of 'habitus' as an analytical tool to reveal how the notion of 'intelligentsia' is inculcated, transposed and generative during socialisation, and becomes a constitutive force in Russian Jews' personal and collective identity. This analysis is based on the reading of life histories narrated by 43 Russian Jewish university students who have been living in Israel since the 1990s. The findings reveal four distinct socialisation practices employed by the Russian Jewish family in inculcating a notion of belonging to the intelligentsia, and how this notion was restructured in adolescence in Jewish informal Jrameworks that became widespread during Perestroika. The study corroborates Bourdieu's thesis about the formative force of early socialisation and verifies the transposal quality of habitus-its ability to adjust to major biographical and social-historical changes. The discussion proposes that considering both kinds of change sheds light on the dynamics of habitus in socialisation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is the result of the joint research project ‘From “Being a Stranger” to “Being a Local”: Personal Narratives of Russian Jewish Immigrants’ supported by grants from the Israeli Science Foundation founded by the Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education, and the Levi Eshkol Institute for the Study of Israel’s Economy, Politics, and Society, Hebrew University.

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Jews -- Former Soviet republics -- History
  • Jews, Russian -- Israel
  • Immigrants -- Israel -- Social conditions
  • Immigrant absorption -- Israel
  • Jews -- Identity


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