Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Web Journalism in the Ultra Orthodox (Haredi) Community

Hello Readers,

Another publication is in the process of being published soon. It involves the worldviews and professional inclinations of web journalists in the ultra-Orthodox world, with an emphasis on the Israeli community. The work was generously supported by the EU's Research and Innovation initiative - Marie Curie foundation, as well as by the LINKS I-Core initiative of Israel's Science Foundation. Here are is the draft of the abstract that should be published shortly in a European journal.

Fundamentalist Web Journalism: Walking a Fine Line between Religious Ultra Orthodoxy and the New Media Ethos

Oren Golan and Nakhi Mishol-Shauli

New media journalism has perturbed traditional reporting not only in mainstream-modern societies, but also within religious-cum-insular communities. Focusing on the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, and in light of web-journalists’ continuous struggle with leading clergy and an apprehensive public, this study grapples with the question, how do ultra-Orthodox web journalists view their work-mission as information brokers for an enclave culture? The study gleaned from 40 in-depth interviews with web journalists and discussions with community web activists. Results uncovered three major schematas that drive their praxis: (1) Communal-Haredi (2) Western-Democratic (3) Journalist Ecosystem. Findings suggest a rising archetype of fundamentalist web journalism that rests its professional ethos on writers’ practice, rather than on formalized training or communal dictums. Web-journalists were found to strongly identify with their community, yet, often unintentionally, also to act as a secondary form of authority and harbingers of change.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Upcoming Publication on the Haredi integration of ICTs

Upcoming Publication:

Exploring the religious worlds of the ultra Orthodox I have been developing, alongside my doctoral student, Nakhi Mishol Shauli, and Ben Gurion University doctoral student, Malka Shacham, a new paper, funded by the Israel LINKS I-Core program and the EU Marie Curie foundation, that explores the ultra Orthodox's integration into communal and family life. I am attaching its opening statement and inviting interested readers to write to me about it. The full manuscript should be published in 2018.

ICTs in Religious Communities: Communal and Domestic Integration of New Media among Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel
            Nakhi Mishol Shauli, Malka Shacham and Oren Golan

Since the 1990s, the integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) into everyday life, including work, education, leisure and overall personal management, has become a hallmark of modern societies. Considering this development, British scholars (Horst, 2012; Silverstone & Haddon, 1996), established the domestication approach of technologies, contending that technological integration processes within modern families and communities are not technology-deterministic, but are largely affected by cultural and social factors. While these scholars explored modern-western populations’ legitimation of new media, further nuanced investigation of ICT integration among communities that manifest strong ideological, cultural or religious objections to modern practice is required. Despite overall resistance, an apparent boost in internet and new media use by members of such communities has been recorded and described by researchers representing various disciplines (Anderson, 2003; Busch, 2010; Horowitz, 2001; Lagerkvist, 2008; Lagerkvist, 2010). This study discusses the patterns and implications of ICTs domestication and use in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community.

While ICT use has been rejected from Haredi formal educational settings, it has been largely integrated into informal home and workplace settings. Considering the apprehension expressed by religious communities—especially enclaved and marginalized groups—regarding ICTs, as well as the opportunities they embody for these sectors, we seek to examine the manner in which for religious communities, and particularly for enclaved and marginalized groups, we question how do socializing agents in Haredi society negotiate ICT use within informal educational spheres.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Emergent Self-Educating Communities in the Digital Age

In addition to the cyber youth interest, over the past few years I have been involved with multiple projects focusing on Emergent Self-Educating Communities in the Digital Age. This work has been funded by two sources, the EU Commission's Marie Curie foundation and the LINKS  iCore project. This funding has enabled me to achieve a better empirical understanding of online communities and their offline counterparts.

My research group functions as a community net lab focusing on the ways that clearly defined (primordial) communities (re)form social boundaries through the use of new media (i.e. the Internet, mobile communication) and knowledge that is constructed online. Members of the group engage in different communities (i.e. Zionist religious Jews, Haredim, Philippines in Israel, Reform Jewry, the Custodia Terrae Sanctae Franciscan order) and investigate different social aspects of their new media activities including acquiring life skills, online dating, online journalism, religious mobile app developments and more. Thus informal knowledge and its dissemination through new media are evaluated as it impacts social identities and boundaries of each community.

My research team includes, my graduate students, postdoctoral affiliates and research assistants as follows:
Nakhi Mishol Shauli
Dr. Deby Babis
Yaakov Don
Liraz Cohen
Dr. Michele Martini
Alon Diamant-Cohen
Eldar Fehl
Akiva Berger
Matan Milner
Imad Jraisy

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Article: Strategic Management of Religious Websites: The Case of Israel’s Orthodox Communities

It's been a while since I last posted. Anyway, I have just published a manuscript in the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. This is a based on a study I have worked on with Professor Heidi Campbell of Texas A&M University since 2008 and draws on interviews we conducted with Jewish Orthodox webmasters. I am glad it has reached fruition and I can share it with others. You can read the full paper here


This study investigates how webmasters of sites affiliated with bounded communities manage tensions created by the open social affordances of the internet. We examine how webmasters strategically manage their respective websites to accommodate their assumed target audiences. Through in-depth interviews with Orthodox webmasters in Israel, we uncover how they cultivate three unique strategies -- control, layering, and guiding -- to contain information flows. We thereby elucidate how web strategies reflect the relationships between community, religion and CMC.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Informal Education in the Field: Visiting Bat Galim's Community Center in Haifa

Recently I conducted a visit with students to a community center in the struggling coastal neighborhood of Bat Galim in Haifa, Israel. The visit was part of their undergraduate studies as well as their training to become informal education practitioners. The students were introduced to the challenges of informal education management as they met Ehud Cohen,

Ehud Cohen - Discussing Administrative Challenges in Bat Galim's Community Center
a leading manager in the center ; Later on, they met Erez Sarig. Sarig is a young community leader and activist for green causes. During their visit, Erez discussed the activities involved in the Bat Galim's community garden. A place that fosters communal practices, agricultural knowledge, and inspires a green approach to community members,
Erez Sarig and Haifa University Students discussing Bat Galim's Communal Garden
This was followed by a workshop and lecture with Rony Keynan on community theater. It should be noted that Ms. Keynan is a leading member in the Hai-Po community theater in Haifa and introduced the group to drama-laden forms of pedagogy through a workshop activity (demonstrated in these photos).

Informal Education Students Workshop Activities

Rony Keynan explaining the foundations of Community Theater and dramatic practice
and finally Hanna Meller offered some inspiring discussion on the formation of a woman's club in the neighborhood, in collaboration with the Milav – Municipal agency in Haifa .
Hanna Meller Discussing Elderly Women empowerment in the Community Center
Overall it was a warm and wonderful day in November, which provided an opportunity to reflect on the multitude of pedagogical means and possibilities for informal education in its engagement with local communities.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Critically Acclaimed Documentary 'Pickles', with Dir. Dalit Kimor

In collaboration with Tamar Merin and Edna Grad of Jewish Studies I am organizing a screening of a documentary film at Northwestern University open to its students and scholars entitled: 'Pickles'.

The film has earned several awards, including:
  • EBS Seoul international documentary f.f. (honorable mention)
  • Crossroads international F. F. USA (first prize)
  • Saint Petersburg international documentary f.f (special prize)
Dalit Kimor will address the tensions of women torn between the desire for progress versus maintaining tradition; the status of Arab Widows; the feminist enterprise established by women with no awareness of Feminism; and the potential for financial success  change social conventions.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Book: The Social Order and the Code of Informality

Recently a new book has been published on Informal behavior and education that is a homage to the work of the late scholar Reuven Kahane. Professor Kahane was an exceptional thinker that has inspired many generations of students and researchers and has been known, among other things, for his empirical study and theoretical scholarship on informal behavior and informal education. I should add that I have been honored to be one of his students.

For professor Kahane, informal behavior is an integral part of the social order. This can be seen in his numerous articles and his 1997 book (in collaboration with Tamar Rapoport) The Origins of Postmodern Youth and is reflected in the new collection (2012) edited by his son, Professor Ahuvia Kahane, and his first PhD student, Professor Tamar Rapoport. Together with a renowned group of students and scholars this new collection has been launched entitled The Social Order and the Code of Informality (in Hebrew, Tel-Aviv, Resling Publishing)

The books' collection of manuscripts entertain a large array of social arenas that are analyzed through professor Kahane's unique lens and/or in an intellectual dialogue with it. This includes social activities: excursions, dance, school ceremonies; different social groups (ultra Orthodox Jews, former participants of youth movements in Latin America, Palestinian youngsters) and more. For my part I added a paper on Online trust and the code of informality among Israeli Youth.

Finally I should add that the publishing of this book attests not only to the powerful theoretical tools that Kahane's legacy bequests but also to the attention that Israeli scholars have given to the field of informality. Kahane's teacher, the late Professor S. N. Eisenstadt, has contributed to this volume. Also, the late Professor Diana Silberman – Keller, a committed scholar in informal education, added a manuscript before her untimely demise. My hope is that the legacy of professor Kahane persists and that scholars in Israel and beyond continue to use these tools and others to advance the understanding of informal modes of behavior and education.