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High School Graduation Ceremonies

Intergenerational Relations and Models of Social Order

Edna Lomsky-Feder

The aim of this study is to draw out the structural logic of high school graduation ceremonies in general-and in Israel in particular-in order to understand their cultural meaning. The article analyzes 55 accounts of ceremonies held at Israeli-Jewish secondary schools just before the students' conscription into the army. Analysis shows that these events are organized around competing intergenerational models of the social order. Each generational unit locates itself differently vis-à-vis the state order, suspending familial loyalties in the face of loyalty to generational interests. The adults position themselves as representatives of the hegemonic order, while the students demonstrate its arbitrariness and the possibility of resisting it. Thus, the graduation ceremony structurally regulates the intergenerational encounter and the basic conflict between the family and the state on the eve of the students' enlistment.