The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology

Theory, Ideology, and Identity

By Uri Ram

Subjects: Political Sociology
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791423028, 232 pages, March 1995
Hardcover : 9780791423011, 232 pages, March 1995

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Table of contents

List of Tables


Chapter 1 Introduction: Content in Context

Chapter 2 Paradigm, Crisis, Revolution: The Trajectory of Israeli Sociology

The Three Phases of Israeli Sociology: A Post-Kuhnian Trajectory

The External Social Determinant: History, Politics, and Sociology

The Internal Social Determinant: Higher Education and Sociology

Chapter 3 The Nation-Building School: Functionalism

The Theoretical Framework: System Modernization, Nation-Building

The Israeli Nation-Building Process:"Pioneers" to "Masses"

The Dynamics of Nation-Building: Growth Differentiation, Institutionalization

The Mizrahi Immigration: Desocialization and esocialization

Science and Politics: Sociology in the Service of the State's Elite

Summary and Critical Appraisal

Chapter 4 The Vicissitudes of a Paradigm: Functionalism Revised and Revisited

Revised Functionalism: Objective Versus Subjective Integration

Revisited Functionalism: Modernization Reversed

Revised Functionalism: Micro-Level Modification

Revision and Revisitation: Meso-Level Modification

Status Quo Politics, Status Quo Sociology

Summary and Critical Appraisal

Chapter 5 The Shadowy Side of Politics: Elitism

The Context of Emergence: Ups and Downs of the Elite

The Theoretical Framework: Conflict and Elites

The Power Elite: Rise and Fall of an Oligarch

From "Red" to "Brown": The Rise of the Right

Politics: Neither Left nor Right

Summary and Critical Appraisal

Chapter 6 Beyond the Melting Pot: Pluralism

The "Second Israel": The Recognition of the "Social Disparity"

The Theoretical Framework: "Heterogeneity in the Broadest Sense"

Israel: Three Modes of Incorporation

Arabs in Israel: Palestinian Israelis?

Democratic Pluralism: The Politics of lntergroup Accommodation

Summary and Critical Appraisal

Chapter 7 Developed to Be Underdeveloped: Marxism

Radical Sociology: Its Emergence in Israel

Critical Sociology: Between "Science" and "Ideology"

From Socialism to Etatism: The Turn Towards Militaristic Nationalism

The Mizrahi Predicament: The Development of Underdevelopment

Marxist Politics: "A Second Zionist Revolution"

Chapter 8 Telling an Untold Tale: Feminism

New Movement: Feminism Comes to Israel

New Scholarship: Feminism in Academia

Three Feminist Perspectives: Liberal, Marxist, and Radical

Feminist Sociology: Three Emerging Modalities

Feminist Politics: Equity, Equality, Empowerment

Summary and Critical Appraisal

Chapter 9 "A Late Instance of European Overseas Expansion:" Colonization

The Frontier Reopened: New and Old Settlers

The Blinders of National Sociology: The Dualist Approach

Frontier and Territory: A Weberian Variation

Colony and Labor: A Marxist Variation

Political Underpinnings: The Territorial Partition Option

Summary and Critical Appraisal

Chapter 10 Conclusion: Sociology in Society

Epilogue: Towards a Post-Zionist Sociology



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.

Uri Ram is a lecturer in the Sociology Department at Haifa University. He is the editor of the book Israeli Society: Critical Perspectives and the author of a number of articles published in professional journals.


"I felt stimulated by this bird's-eye view. The analysis not only puts us on intimate terms with Israeli sociology but simultaneously provides us with a richly textured overview of Israeli society and challenges us with new questions and possibilities." — Gershon Shafir, University of California, San Diego

"Ram has written a fine historical critique of Israeli sociology. It aids our understanding of Israeli scholarship and the sociological understanding of Israel, gives us insights into the Israeli academic elite, and is useful as a sociology of knowledge." — Walter P. Zenner, State University of New York, Albany