A Cross-Cultural Ethnographically Informed Interview Study: Mothering and Educating Among Middle-Class Mothers in Israel


This case is based on our cross-cultural study of Israeli middle-class mothers’ engagement in their children’s education. The mothers in our study belong to three social-cultural groups: Palestinian Israeli, Russian immigrants, and Israeli-born Jewish. These three groups participate today in the Israeli middle class, albeit with different relationships to major social institutions and resources, as well as to access to educational goods and services. Our study, based on ethnographically informed interviews with mothers, shows that while the mothers share certain ideas about mothering, their modes of engaging with their children’s education are also shaped by their different positionings in Israeli society, by distinct cultural models of both mothering and education, as well as in response to broader changes in the wider society. By ethnographically informed interviews, we mean that our study is based on the principle of ethnography—extended participation in the field in an endeavor to understand how cultural ideas and practices are shaped and reproduced in a specific context, together with the use of in-depth interviewing to create data for comparison. This case study provides a behind-the-scenes account of the research process, with a focus on what choices were made along the way and why. The case illustrates how the research process is shaped by a combination of intellectual concerns and personal interests and demonstrates the ways in which its emergent design is tailored in relation to various resources at the disposal of the researchers. Finally, the case presents the complexities of research as a collaborative process.

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