Juggling models of masculinity: Russian-Jewish immigrants in the Israeli army

Edna Lomsky-Feder*, Tamar Rapoport

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The present study addresses the question "What is masculinity?" by exploring how male immigrants interpret local masculinity and the models of masculinity they portray while situating themselves in the male hierarchy of the new society. The study is based on "immigration stories" elicited by in-depth interviews conducted with 43 university students who immigrated to Israel at the beginning of the 1990s from the former Soviet Union. The analysis of the stories reveals that the immigrants employ four major practices (avoidance, mockery, maneuvering, and provocation) that unfasten the taken-for-granted link between masculinity and army service in the Israeli society, thereby resisting the hegemonic, military model of masculinity in Israel. The immigrants render meaning to their resistance of the indigenous model ("The Warrior") via the harnessing of cultural models that they carry with them from their native home- "The Russian Soldier" and "The Jewish Man" - without seeking to alter gender power relations as such. They discursively juggle between the three contesting and competing models of masculinity that together constitute a fluid and elusive "interpretative field" of masculinity. Via their interpretative work, the Russian male immigrants reconstitute their masculine identity, seeking to assert their distinctiveness and to receive social legitimation for their different conception of masculinity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)114-137
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003


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