Federalism and Multiculturalism as a Vehicle for Perception Change in Israeli Society
19 Pages Posted: 3 May 2003
The vast majority of nation states today are no longer ethnically homogenous and the maintenance of inter-group cohesion is considered to be a significant challenge to policy makers. This is the case in Israel, where social tensions between disparate groups of Jews and tensions concerning the integration of Israel's Arab community have called into question the historic "melting pot" model. To reduce inter-ethnic violence, the federal model of institutions has been advanced by many scholars. This paper will report on an innovative course which presented and explored the limits and possibilities of a "federally" oriented multi-cultural model for Israeli society. The students (in Bar-Ilan University's Program in Conflict Management) were exposed to the narratives of a variety of ethnic minorities, participated in a workshop and studied various examples of federalism and multiculturalism. Their opinions on Israeli society and ethnicity were analyzed using consensus analysis and other qualitative methods. The data indicates that the course was able to consolidate the consensus of the students and change some opinions toward a more federalist multi-cultural viewpoint.
Keywords: Federalism, Multiculturalism, Consensus theory
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