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


  • Tal Litvak Hirsch Ben Gurion University
  • Alon Lazar



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


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.



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Author Biographies

Tal Litvak Hirsch, Ben Gurion University

Tal LITVAK HIRSCH received her Ph.D. in social psychology from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva, Israel. Her research foci are peace and conflict studies, and the long-term psycho-social impact of the Holocaust. 2003-2004 she was a research fellow at the Truman Institute of Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 2005 she was a Fulbright scholar at Earlham College, U.S.A. Currently, she is a researcher and lecturer at the Management and Conflict Resolution Program at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Apart of her academic work she is also a clinical psychologist working mainly with women and adolescents.

Alon Lazar

Alon LAZAR, PhD, is currently an independent scholar. His main areas of study focus upon the long-term impacts of the Holocaust and social networks.




How to Cite

Litvak Hirsch, T., & Lazar, A. (2014). Cultural Distance From the Internal Other: Education and Relations With the Other as Discussed in Life Stories. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 15(2).



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