How Israelis Represent the Problem of Violence in their Schools: A Case Study of a Discursive Construction
Authors: (Douglas J. Glick, Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York)
Abstract: This paper analyzes how ‗the problem of school violence‘ is causally represented in Israeli newspapers. Common propositions are uncovered about the causes for this widespread social problem and, as such, they are understood to constitute a relative and site-specific, but nonetheless empirically legitimate, representation of this particular Israeli discursive construction. This approach is semiotically adopted in opposition to many others that tend to speak of 'discursive constructions' in very general ways. In contrast, regular causal attributions that constituted 'talking about Israeli school violence' are documented based on their emergence from within a long term study of three Israeli newspapers. They are then also explored as they are reflexively interrelated in Israeli cultural terms. That is, they are considered in terms of how they are supported and/or challenged by Israeli ideological beliefs. Reflexive relations of constraint, support and opposition are then investigated by looking at the internal dynamics of the causal propositions that constitute this construction in relation to others in Israel today. In this way, the general link between regular linguistic practices and cultural ideology is explored in this particular case study. It is proposed that this specific case study has implications for the general cross-cultural study of discursive ideological constructs both practically and methodologically. The study then documents a second-order, indexical system that links (and strengthens) causal attributions about the problem of school violence in Israel to a (relative) speaker's/writer's conservative vs. liberal political identity. The study then closes with a discussion of some of the general methodological and theoretical implications drawn from this semiotic case study.