Glocal Youth Culture As a Bridge between Two Ethno-Religious Adolescents Groups As Mirrored in Body Perception and Self-Image

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Shlomit BECHAR, Beit Berl Academic College, Israel
The study investigated how in a multicultural society, adolescents from two ethno- religious groups, Israeli Jews and Muslims perceive themselves and their body. The adolescents construct a glocal youth culture in order to cope with two cultural competitive influences: traditional versus global, expressed by contradicted values and norms that impose practices of body maintenance and self-images. Traditional influences mean maintaining a local social order where collective values and norms prevail over individual needs and desires; global influences mean entitling individuals to shape their lives according to individual desires.

Data were obtained from 1560 adolescents, 804 boys (397 Jews, 407 Muslims) and 756 girls (355 Jews, 401 Muslims) aged 13-15. Participants completed a questionnaire modified by language and gender, assessing self-image, body perceptions, and attitudes towards otherness.

Similarities between the ethno-religious groups were greater than differences. The results support the existence of a glocal youth culture, influenced by new media technologies, integrating local-traditional and global values. Differences are associated with traditional ethno-cultural norms while similarities, with global processes.

Jewish and Muslim girls share a positive self-image; they ascribe characteristics like beauty, respect, and happiness to the slime body (global influence). Muslim girls compared to Jewish girls appreciate slimmer bodies of girls and tolerate chubbier bodies of boys (ethno-cultural norms versus global influence).

Jewish and Muslim boys prefer a slim body for girls and boys alike (global influence). Muslim boys, more than Jewish, tolerate chubbier bodies for both boys and girls (ethno-cultural norms versus global influence).

A noticeable difference between Jews and Muslims was found concerning acceptance of "otherness" (handicapped etc.). Jews are more tolerant than Muslims; within the gender groups, girls are more tolerant.

Findings partly reflect a "collaborative individualization" process, based on similar age, exposure to global media, identity formation, and individual desires that bridges between the two ethno-religious groups.