The phenomenology of a new social category: The case of the gifted disadvantaged in Israel

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This article deals with the complex conjunction of official classifications and with the phenomenological experience of those classifications in everyday life. It does so by presenting a case study of "The Boarding School for the Gifted Disadvantaged" in Israel. This school has proposed a new life category, the "gifted disadvantaged," which was previously unknown in the discursive and practical fields in Israel, though closely linked to widespread ethnic classifications in Israel. The main findings of this case study show that the boundary work engaged in by interviewees differs from that which is widespread in research on boundaries. Accordingly, this article identifies three sets of in-group boundary work: between types of self (former and current selves); between types of personal nature (first nature and second nature); and between ethnic intellectuals and everyday ethnics. In conclusion, this article examines the finding of this case study in relation to the research on boundaries in cultural sociology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-367
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Boarding School for the Gifted Disadvantaged is one of a number of boarding schools funded by the Israeli Ministry of Education. I chose it for this study because it is widely seen as being most representative of the Israeli boarding school project for the following three reasons. Primarily, it was the first boarding school project to be organized. Second, most of the pedagogic plans for boarding schools were rigorously implemented in this school (a result of its proximity to Ministry of Education staff and to professionals in the field from the Hebrew University, also located in Jerusalem). Third, it was here that a new social category, the gifted disadvantaged, was constructed in a deliberate attempt to alter the cultural capital of the school’s pupils.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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