Ben-Asher and Lebel [Abstract]

Personal documents on the Internet: what’s new and what’s old  [Full text]

Smadar Ben-Asher [1]
Udi Lebel [2]

Abstract: The public discourse pertaining to IDF (Israel Defense Forces) widows, especially those cohabiting with a partner out of wedlock, is presented by means of a study that analyzes competing representations in the sociopolitical discourse in Israeli society. The social representations give expression to collectivist-republican perceptions that accord centrality to the widows’ national role of preserving the country’s collective memory in exchange for monetary compensation, and individualist-liberal representations that accord centrality to the individual and do not dictate her conduct in accordance with the role designated for her by the state. The present study analyzed the Internet talkback discourse that appeared in response to a media report presenting the demands of IDF widows for the state’s continued acknowledgement of its obligation toward them, even after they form a new intimate relationship. The study’s findings corroborate the existence of hegemonic representations that reflect a republican-nationalist discourse advocating that the widows should serve the national values of commemoration in order to gain state recognition, alongside emancipated representations of a liberal discourse that accords centrality to the widow as an individual and views her rehabilitation as a private and personal matter. The study also found polemical representations that confront the two perceptions, which can no longer coexist. The study found that respondents belonging to the liberal-individualist group will be inclined to support recognition and state support for the widows irrespective of their personal status, whereas respondents belonging to the republican-collectivist group will be inclined to precondition state recognition and support for the widows on their personal status.

Keywords: IDF widows, hegemonic, emancipated, and polemical social representations, liberal discourse, republican discourse, talkback

[1] Educational Councilers at Kay Academic College,
[2] Sapir College and Ariel University Center,