CONSTRUCTING IDENTITIES AT THE MARGINS: Masculinities and Citizenship in the Israeli Army


Orna Sasson-Levy, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel; e-mail:


This article examines the construction of multiple gendered and national identities in the Israeli army. In Israel, hegemonic masculinity is identified with the masculinity of the Jewish combat soldier and is perceived as the emblem of good citizenship. This identity. I argue, assumes a central role in shaping a hierarchal order of gendered and civic identities that reflects and reproduces social stratification and reconstructs differential modes of participation in, and belonging to, the Israeli state.

In-depth interviews with two marginalized groups in the Israeli army—women in “masculine” roles and male soldiers in blue-collar jobs—suggest two discernible practices of identity. While women in “masculine” roles structure their gender and national identities according to the masculinity of the combat soldier, the identity practices of male soldiers in blue-collar jobs challenge this hegemonic masculinity and its close link with citizenship in Israel. However, while both identity practices are empowering for the groups in question, neither undermines the hegemonic order, for the military's practice of “limited inclusion” prohibits the development of a collective consciousness that would challenge the differentiated structure of citizenship.