The ethnic script in action: The regrounding of Russian Jewish immigrants in Israel

Julia Lerner, Tamar Rapoport, Edna Lomsky-Feder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Working from dynamic, strategic, and collective qualities of activity to discussion of the concept of "Script" in sociological and anthropological literature, this article further develops the idea of the "ethnic script." We consider the ethnic script to be an interpretative framework, tightly connected to group identity and to designing actions of ethnic group members with respect to sociocultural institutions and other social groups within a given society. Our proposition is that migration problematizes the affinity among script, place, and identity. As a result research on immigration allows us to deepen understanding of both the analytical notion of "Script" and the processes of identity construction in migration. The case study of Russian Jewish immigrants in Israel is used to examine empirically how these migrants activate their ethnic script in their struggle for place and identity. This script prescribes acquiring higher education as a means to belonging in the "intelligentsia" and fulfilling Jewishness. The ethnic nature of the examined script exposes its strategic role in the power relations involved in the migration process. The article shows how immigrants mobilize and maneuver the script as a flexible interpretative strategy for relocation within the hierarchical social structure of the receiving society.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)168-195
Number of pages28
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


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