Dan Bar-On's psychosocial approach sees identity as dynamic, constructed in contradistinction to various "Others." Drawing parallels to other societies, he looks most closely at identity formation among Israelis or, more precisely, among the largely secular Jews from European lands who formed the hegemonic backbone of Israeli society. The Others in question, Diaspora Jews, Jews from Muslim countries, and Arabs, represent repressed aspects of the collective self.
Case studies and analysis depict various stages in identity formation, as do "personal windows" onto the author as he experienced these stages. Monolithic identity construction characterized Israel's early years, but this began to disintegrate with the passing of time, in ways that were often painful and confusing, though necessary in the view of Bar-On and others. A neo-monolithic backlash has been the response to the disintegration stage in recent years. Yet the book holds out the possibility of a constructive dialogue, internal and among groups in society, that will give rise to a better-integrated and more inclusive identity construction.
About the Author:
Dan Bar-On is a professor of psychology in the department of behavioral sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev