Cultural Distance From the Internal Other: Education and Relations With the Other as Discussed in Life Stories

Tal Litvak Hirsch, Alon Lazar


Life stories make it possible to trace the manner in which identity construction takes place, especially amongst members of multicultural and multiethnic societies. The life stories of six women belonging to three different groups, all residents of the Be'er Sheva area in Israel, were analyzed by applying and extending BAR-ON's (2005) theory of identity construction which focuses upon the relations with the "internal other" and the "external other." Specifically, we investigated the intersection between education and relations with others as factors shaping identity during the women's various life courses. Results suggest that education serves as a mapping tool which places the "self" and the "other" as either close or distant in terms of identity construction. Moreover, findings point to the existence of a "cultural distance from the internal others" (CDIO) as shaped by educational aspirations and achievements. Building upon BAR-ON's theory and the concept of CDIO, psychosocial applications and future directions for research are discussed.



identity construction; education; "others"; women; life stories; in-depth interviews; thematic analysis; Israel

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Copyright (c) 2014 Tal Litvak Hirsch, Alon Lazar

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