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Vicarious Group Trauma among British Jews


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Given that literature on the intra- and inter-generational transmission of traumas is mainly based on secondary literature and focuses on the transmission of trauma memory in terms of the historical knowledge of group trauma, this article develops the theory of vicarious group trauma and tests this theory by exploring vicarious traumatization in the everyday lives of Jews in Britain through the methods of observation and in-depth interviewing. Vicarious group trauma is defined as a life or safety-threatening event or abuse that happened to some members of a social group but is felt by other members as their own experience because of their personal affiliation with the group. The article finds that the vicarious sensation of traumatic group experiences can create anxiety, elicit perceptions of threat and, by extension, hypervigilance among Jews. The findings demonstrate that group traumas of the past interpenetrate and interweave with members’ current lives and in this way can also become constitutive of their group identity. An institutional focus on threats to Jews can inform the construction and reinforcement of traumatization symptoms and accordingly vicarious group trauma. This article suggests an association between the level of involvement of group members in the collective’s social structure and the prominence of vicarious group trauma among them.



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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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Link to article including link to pdf, Vicarious Group Trauma among British Jews
PDF (via academia.edu), Vicarious Group Trauma among British Jews

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Fuhr, Christina Vicarious Group Trauma among British Jews. Qualitative Sociology. 2016: 1-22.  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.1007/s11133-016-9337-4