Cultural encoding and fake equality in popular reality shows: Lessons from Israel

Amal Jamal, Nelly Elias, Orly Soker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper critically examines the representation of two major minorities in Israel, Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish immigrants, by focusing on the widely popular genre of reality shows. We demonstrate that this genre contains sophisticated mechanisms of differentiation and selection that inevitably exclude and stigmatise minority participants. To demonstrate this thesis the paper takes a close look at two Israeli reality shows that were conceived to have a public value-Wanted: A Leader and The Ambassador. The examination of these shows reveals how Israeliness-presented as the space of equal opportunity-contains discriminatory mechanisms based on national and ethnic affiliations. Thus, the study illustrates that national identity could be utilised as a meta-narrative of universality and inclusiveness, but actually refers to a particular type of identity that is ethnically restricted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1349-1366
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • Cultural Encoding
  • Ethnic Differentiation
  • Israeliness
  • Reality Shows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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