Date Approved

3-30-2004

Date Posted

10-1-2009

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Carol Freedman-Doan, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Jeffrey Danskey, PhD

Abstract

The literature about self-identity views the self as socially constructed, constantly revised, and providing the individual with a narrative of continuity despite change (Shu-Fang Dien, 2000; McAdams, 1985). In this study, identity literature and the narrative approach were used theoretically and methodologically, to explore the connections between the decision to join a secular Jewish-oriented group (SJOG), and the joiner's perceived Jewish identity among joiners in Israel and in the U.S.

It was hypothesized that joining serves to reinforce, distinguish, and renegotiate a Jewish secular identity. Additionally, differences in the group's social context were expected to manifest through identity-negotiations content.

Results emphasized the importance of joining a group, and group identity, to the development of self-identity. Joiner's narrations revealed an attempt to bridge polarized selfidentities and thus create a continuous and balanced self-story. The social context subtlety influenced the decision to join a SJOG. Finally, in negotiating identities, individuals created outer social constructs to accommodate their identity needs.

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