The mission of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is to provide its students with an analytical understanding of society and culture. The department promotes empirical research into the processes that shape society and culture, as well as understanding their mechanisms and forms of change. Students learn to analyse society and culture from a critical comparative perspective, and to question the assumptions about their surrounding society which are usually taken for granted.
The department faculty is committed to a better understanding of society as well as to its improvement from a humanist perspective, emphasizing the values of equality and mutual respect. Faculty members study the society and culture of Israel, Europe, and the Middle East; power relations; and discrimination against minorities. They investigate the process of the social, cultural, and political construction of reality, employing a broad range of theoretical approaches and methodologies. By applying a comparative perspective to social and discursive struggles, department members seek to change prevailing conditions and positions.
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at BGU, which opened as an independent department in October 2007, is Israel’s youngest department in these disciplines. It combines the innovative spirit and enthusiasm of a new community with administrative and academic experience. The basic perspective that led to the establishment of the department is an interdisciplinary approach, with a view towards the mutual influences of society, culture, politics, economics, history, and geography.
Our faculty members are all PhD graduates of excellent universities in Israel and the United States. The department's faculty is strongest in qualitative and comparative approaches, which lay a foundation for research and a set of theoretical interests common to sociologists and anthropologists. The interests of the department faculty are concentrated in the following four fields:
Society, Politics, Economics, and Organizations
(Nitza Berkovitch, Lev Grinberg, Sara Helman,
Daniel Maman, Uri Ram, Aviad Raz).
The faculty and students working in this field of interest investigate political, social, and economic institutions and processes, focusing on the production and re-production of inequality. Their research examines various aspects of politics (the nation-state, citizenship, elites), economics (corporations, labor organizations, inequality), and their mutual interactions. It traces how they influence civil society (social movements and NGOs) as well as the impact of global processes on their social role and functioning. A special focus of this area of specialization is the critical study of the interplay between the political and economic institutions of Israeli society.
Identity, Difference, Movement and Place
(Nir Avieli, Jackie Feldman, Julia Lerner, Andre Levy,
Fran Markowitz, Esmail Nashif, Uri Ram).
The intersection of these research areas is at the core of the anthropological studies of the department. This field of interest embraces two main research directions. The first is the modes of collective and individual identity as they are constructed in Western-modern traditions and as they are challenged, both from within modern culture and from outside it. The main research theme here is the basic human conditions of belonging and otherness that are modified by conditions of colonialism, capitalism, nationalism, and globalization. The other research direction of this field relates to marginalization and strangeness as created by acts of movement and border-crossing. It addresses different types of migration and homecoming, refugees, tourist and pilgrim voyages, and migrant and diasporic groups and identities.
Gender, Sex, and the Body
(Nir Avieli, Nitza Berkovitch, Sara Helman,
Fran Markowitz, Esmail Nashif, Niza Yanay).
This is a field of common interest for the sociologists and anthropologists in the department. It is grounded in the recognition that gender, sexuality, and the body are not determined physiologically but are socially and culturally constructed. Focusing on social and cultural aspects facilitates the critical analysis of power relations and the division of labor in the family, society, and the nation-state. This critical approach enables the discovery of different possible forms and combinations of sexuality, vulnerability, and flexibility of the body.
Knowledge, Science, Culture, and Religion
(Jackie Feldman, Julia Lerner, Andre Levy, Esmail Nashif,
Uri Ram, Aviad Raz, Uri Shwed, Yishai Tobin, Niza Yanay).
This field of interest brings together faculty and students studying the social dimensions of knowledge and the social construction of the world. Research on knowledge and its practices embraces the study of the formation and transmission of concepts and categories (such as language, ideology, legitimacy, and meaning), of the frameworks of discovery and justification (such as disciplines, paradigms, universities, and laboratories), and of research into socializing practices and cultural institutions (socialization, consumption, and collective memory). It also enquires into the patterns of religious and secular behavior (beliefs, symbols, rituals, and pilgrimage).