Can military service bridge social schisms: the case of Israel

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Can the military bridge social schisms? Conventional wisdom supports this assumption. However, it seems that, at best, the effect of military service on bridging social schisms and promoting social cohesion is limited. This article examines the extended effect of contact hypothesis in the military, both in practice and as an element capable of bringing about a change in veterans’ thinking. It asks: are veterans who had diverse friendships during their service more likely to have diverse friendships in the future? If so, do they attribute their ability and willingness to include others within their ingroup to their military service? Based on findings from a study of Israeli college and university students, the article demonstrates that while indeed service friendships may be short lived, service alongside members of outgroups has certain longer-term effects and influences the social perception of veterans. Social messages can be both positive and negative and teach veterans the limits of redrawing social boundaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-370
Number of pages23
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Contact hypothesis
  • IDF
  • Israel defence forces
  • civil-military relations
  • military socialisation
  • military veterans
  • social identity


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