Identity and Antisemitism in Flux: The Psychology of Religious Recognition in France
By: Joanna Marks '16
Advising Faculty: Jefferson Singer
How do individuals contend with conflicting components of identity? This thesis was a qualitative exploration of identity formation among Jews in France in a time of pronounced antisemitism. Participants included 12 French Jews interviewed in Paris, ranging in age from 23 to 78 years old. An interview protocol was devised that investigated Jewish identity, French national identity, and reactions to antisemitism. Because of the unstable nature of the political situation for Jews in France, no initial hypotheses were formulated. The interviews were transcribed and then translated into English. An in depth, bottom up analysis was conducted of each interview to identify common themes and patterns regarding identity. Four themes were identified that were common to each participant: historical legacy; association between Judaism and social ties, politicization of religion, and awareness of French relations to the Maghreb. Multiple readings of the data aided in honing these themes into three of the four identity configurations guided by Schachter’s (2004) theoretical framework. Case studies of the suppression of identity, assimilation of two identities, and a confederacy of identities were presented. The discussion reviews the implications of these findings for a dynamic understanding of bicultural identity, as well as a more nuanced understanding of French Jewish identity in light of increased discrimination.
Related Fields: Psychology