The not-so-small world: Ethnicity and acquaintance networks in Israel

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The present study applies the small world method to examine cross-ethnic acquaintance networks in Israeli society. The experimental design consisted of 144 starting persons who were presented with either an Oriental or Ashkenazi target person, thus yielding four types of ethnic combinations: (1) Ashkenazi to Ashkenazi; (2) Ashkenazi to Oriental; (3) Oriental to Oriental; and (4) Oriental to Ashkenazi. The various chains are analyzed by measures of activation efficiency, completion rates and length of chains, as well as probabilistic analysis for small world statistics. Finally, the analysis focuses on the intergroup bridges, the "gatekeepers" who perform the crossing of the ethnic boundary. The findings prove that acquaintance networks in Israeli society are impinged upon by ethnic distinction, thus rejecting the "integration-through-modernization" concept. While ethnic segregation in Israel was empirically documented in the political, cultural and economic aspects of social life, the present study's main contribution is in highlighting the interpersonal dimension of ethnicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-302
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Networks
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1983

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* This paper is based on research conducted by the author and his students in a year long undergraduate course, “Social Networks”. Parts of this paper were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Israeli Sociological Association, 1983. Financial support was provided by the Research Authority of the University of Haifa. ** Department of Sociology, University of Haifa, Haifa 31999, Israel.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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