Shai Dromi

Lecturer of Sociology, Harvard University
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • International Development
  • Policy in Other Countries
  • Media & Public Opinion
  • Religion

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About Shai

Dromi’s research focuses on the ways beliefs about morality shape social life. He has written about the ways individuals experience and interpret interactions with street beggars, about how the Holocaust trauma shaped radically different ideas about moral community in the Middle East, and how Jewish-Israeli settlers debated about proper compensation for their 2005 relocation. His current research focuses on the emergence and institutionalization of long-distance humanitarianism.

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"Uneasy Settlements: Reparation Politics and the Meanings of Money in the Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza" Sociological Inquiry 84, no. 2 (2014): 294-315.
Draws attention to the communicative functions of money in the reparation process, using the 2005 removal of Jewish-Israeli settlers from Israeli-occupied territories as a case study. Claims that actors may grudgingly agree to attach a monetary value to what they hold sacred, but simultaneously strive to preserve their sense of self-worth and to elicit identification by raising moral critiques about the use of fiscal logic.
"Penny for your Thoughts: Beggars and the Exercise of Morality in Daily Life" Sociological Forum 27, no. 4 (2012): 847-871.
Focuses on how individuals account for the mundane, everyday exchanges they have with strangers who seek their help. The article claims that the presence of beggars does not inherently symbolize urban decay to passersby and does not necessarily elicit anxiety, but instead provides a valuable texture of urban life. The article suggests that urban sociology and the sociology of risk would benefit from sensitizing their studies of public interactions to the diverse meanings individuals assign to them, rather than presupposing annoyance, anxiety, or fear as their predominant characteristic.
"Trauma Construction and Moral Restriction: The Ambiguity of the Holocaust for Israel" (with with Jeffrey C. Alexander), in Narrating Trauma: On the Impact of Collective Suffering, edited by Ron Eyerman, Jeffrey C. Alexander and Elizabeth Butler Breese (Paradigm Publishers, 2011), 107-132.
Explores how references to trauma, and representations about it, are not just individual but social and collective by tracing the divergent trajectories and moral meanings the Holocaust memory has taken by different parties in the Middle East.