IRB-Supervised Social Science Research

The following human-subjects research study was approved and supervised by the University of Maryland Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Identity Constructs of Self-Identified Jewish Americans

The purpose of this research was to determine how self-identified Jewish Americans use narratives to make sense of their own Jewish identities and construct their heritage as members of the Jewish community. Data collection occurred between September 2013 and March 2014. A pilot study was conducted in April 2013 to test the interview questions and gather preliminary data.

Nineteen oral history interviews were conducted with self-identified Jewish Americans ranging in age from 22 to 74, most of whom have or want children. Participants were recruited using an IRB-approved recruitment letter sent via snowball sampling. While both natural-born and converted Jews were invited to participate, only natural-born Jews participated.

Participants shared stories about how they observed holidays, both now and while growing up; how they define the tenets of their faith; and what information about being Jewish is important to share with their current or future children. Interviews were fully transcribed, then coded and analyzed using thematic analysis.

This project resulted in two research papers: “Narratives Draw on Collective Memory to Construct Intangible Heritage: Group Identity Formation and Implications for Communication” and “Toward Secularization: An Investigation of the Evolving Modern Jewish Identity. Both papers are discussed on the Research Papers page.

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