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Do Jews Feel Like Outsiders in America? The Impact of Anti‐Semitism, Friendships, and Religious Geography

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While once the archetypical outsiders, most Jews today do not feel like outsiders in the United States. Using the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey, we examine the factors that differentiate those who feel like outsiders from those who do not. We find that feeling like an outsider is largely associated with having experienced anti‐Semitism, the number of Jews living nearby, the proportion of a respondent's friends’ that are Jewish, and whether Jews identify with some branch of Judaism versus those who identify as ethnic Jews. Although the effects of discrimination on feeling like an outsider are unsurprising, the smaller but persistent effect of geographic context deserves more attention. Jews feel less like outsiders when they live in places where they can and do have more contact with other Jews. The increased within‐group ties that are possible in areas of greater Jewish concentration appear to facilitate psychological integration into the larger community.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Purdue University

Publication date: December 1, 2011


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