Premigration ethnic and national identities: Jewish adolescents planning emigration from Russia and Ukraine to Israel

Eugene Tartakovsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The ethnic and national identities of Jewish high-school adolescents planning emigration from Russia and Ukraine to Israel were investigated about six months before their emigration. The national identities of adolescent emigrants (n=243) were compared with those of non-emigrant Russian and Ukrainian adolescents (n=740). The emigrants' attitude to their country of origin was less positive and their identification with Russians and Ukrainians was weaker as compared with the non-emigrant adolescents. In addition, the attitude of the emigrants towards Israel was more positive than their attitude to Russia or Ukraine. Finally, the emigrants' strongest identification was with the Jewish people, followed by identification with Israelis, while their weakest identification was with Russians and Ukrainians. Israeli and Jewish identities of the emigrant adolescents were positively correlated, and they were independent of the Russian and Ukrainian identities. Perceived discrimination was negatively correlated with the emigrants' attitude to Russia or Ukraine, and it was positively correlated with the emigrants' identification with Israelis and with the Jewish people. Jewish ethnicity was correlated with identification with Jewish people; however, it was not correlated with any component of the Israeli or Russian/Ukrainian identities. The study results indicate that in the premigration period emigrants form a multidimensional system of ethnic and national identities, which reflects their partial detachment from their homeland and affiliation with the country of provisional immigration. This premigration identity system may be termed "anticipatory" (cf. Merton, 1968), because it is not based on real contact with the country of provisional immigration, but rather on the emigrants' expectations. On the other hand, the premigration identities are reactive, in the sense that they reflect the emigrants' reaction to the perceived discrimination they experience in their country of origin. The results of the present study are discussed in light of social identity theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-399
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Adolescent immigrants
  • Attitude to a country
  • Identification with the nation
  • Israel
  • Perceived discrimination
  • Premigration ethnic and national identities
  • Russia
  • Ukraine


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