On the alert in an unpredictable environment

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A fundamental tenet of much sociological, psychological and educational literature assumes that the creation of a predictable environment is crucial for nurturing a sense of well-being, as well as for generating a sense of trust in the wider social order. Still, the ways in which the environment is structured, and the very importance attached to the notion of predictability, will vary in different cultural contexts. Findings from an ethnography of daily life at an Israeli kindergarten over the 2001 school year show how the teacher, albeit unwittingly, shaped an environment that was inherently unpredictable. This unpredictability, in turn, served to mobilize personal resources and social practices among the children as a means not only of coping with the unpredictability, but of turning it to their advantage. Studies of Israeli Jewish youth reveal that the resources that are appropriate for successfully managing in an unpredictable environment are indeed salient and positively valued also at later stages in life. It is argued that socialization into an unpredictable environment at an early age reflects an enduring and characteristic facet of Israeli culture with regards to child-rearing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-179
    Number of pages25
    JournalCulture and Psychology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 2008


    • Child-rearing
    • Early education
    • Ethnography
    • Israel
    • Predictability

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Sociology and Political Science


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