From “Carrier” to “Creator”: The re-construction of national identity in more inclusive terms

Etan Cohen, Yotam Hod, Dani Ben-Zvi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The sociocultural turn redefined learning in terms of shifting identities. In recent years, learning scientists have explored the connections between learning and various types of identities, including disciplinary identity, gender, race, and more. In this article we focus on national identity, to understand how it is constructed and how it might be made more inclusive through learning. Methods: Drawing on sociolinguistics and discourse analysis methods, we present a telling case study aimed at elucidating previously obscure theoretical relations by providing a rich and detailed account of a single student whose national identity shifted over the course of a school year. Findings: Our analysis shows how Joshua, a 9th grade secular Jewish-Israeli student, constructed his national identity. Joshua’s identity developed across three stages, which were marked by a shift from an essentialist disposition to a constructionist one and by an increasing sense of belonging. Contribution: We highlight a connection between learners’ views on the continuum between essentialism and constructionism and their degree of belongingness. Our findings suggest that a constructionist approach to identity can translate into a greater sense of belonging and help ameliorate some cases of social marginalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-454
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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