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Social research on European Jewish populations - The state of the field

Author(s): Keith Kahn-Harris
Date: 04 December 2020

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Since 2014, JPR's European Jewish Research Archive (EJRA) has consolidated social research on post-1990 European Jewish populations within one single, freely available, online resource. EJRA is designed to be a service to community leaders, policymakers and researchers, as well as a resource to help inform the European Jewish research agenda going forward.

Drawing on an innovative methodology, this report presents a detailed statistical analysis of EJRA's holdings. Through this analysis, we are able to pinpoint specific strengths and weaknesses in social research coverage of particular issues in particular countries.

The report finds a clear increase in the research coverage of European Jewish populations since 1990. The amount of coverage in each country is broadly in line with the size of each country’s Jewish population. The majority of the research is produced by researchers whose work is not confined to this field, with a small ‘core' of committed Jewishly-focused researchers. Academia provides the primary base for researchers, but there has been a significant increase in recent years in research reports produced by non-academic institutions, particularly those concerned with monitoring antisemitism.

Approximately 20% of EJRA items concern antisemitism and this proportion has more than trebled since 1990. Research on ‘living’ Jewish communities - as opposed to research on antisemitism and Holocaust remembrance - is far less developed in countries with small Jewish populations. At 8% of the collection, Jewish education appears to be underdeveloped in all European countries with the exception of the UK.

Drawing on the research findings, the report goes on to raise questions regarding possible strategic priorities for European Jewish research for discussion by researchers and organisations that sponsor research. In particular, we ask how and whether research across Europe could be better coordinated and what countries and topics require further support to develop a stronger research infrastructure.

A JPR webinar discussing the findings, featuring report author Dr Keith Kahn-Harris and JPR’s Executive Director, Dr Jonathan Boyd, can be viewed here.