Role-Play and “As If” Self in Everyday Life


  • Avi Shoshana


In this article, I examine the use of role-play strategy and its outcomes in field experiment conditions in the Boarding School for Gifted Disadvantaged in Israel. Data derive from two major sources: governmental protocols related to the organizational production of a role-play technique and interviews with graduates of the experimental school years after their role-playing experience. Analysis of governmental protocols shows the intentional organizational usage of the term gifted within the school population is based on a bureaucratic simulation of giftedness, which in turn creates a distinction between natural giftedness and institutional giftedness. In-depth interviews with graduates of the school indicate that they experience their giftedness as artificial (“as if” giftedness). They describe ethnic conversion and distinction between two types of self (before and after the boarding school). My concluding discussion identifies a particular kind of reflexivity (the presence of absence) in the boarding school graduates’ concepts of self. In turn, this reflexivity indicates phenomenological consequences latent in role-play simulations in field experiment conditions. The findings of this article enable me to address a pertinent issue of psychological anthropology not sufficiently discussed in the literature: the manner in which individuals who experience (re)construction of the self maintain their selfhood many years after the (re)construction.