ARC Seminar: Segregation as a Multi-faced Process of Local-level Roma Marginalization

MAR 09, 2017 | 4:30 PM TO 6:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 09, 2017: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM




Advanced Research Collaborative


ARC Seminar: Julia Szalai: Segregation as a Multi-faced Process of Local-level Roma Marginalization in Central and Eastern Europe

The seminar will discuss the historically and culturally conditioned variations in the manifestations of socioeconomic and ethnic segregation. I will argue that the customarily distinguished two large categories of residential and institutional segregation need to be further deconstructed to provide satisfactory explanation for remarkable differences in the socioeconomic standing and also in the institutional exclusion/inclusion of different Roma groups that are all facing one or another form of forceful separation within their local community. Based on congruent findings of a set of thematically interrelated recent cross-country comparative studies that included samples of Roma and cohabitating non-Roma groups in the Central and Eastern European region ('Ethnic Differences in Education and Diverging Prospects for Urban Youth in an Enlarged Europe'; 'Reducing Early School Leaving in Europe'; Faces and Causes of Roma Marginalization in Local Communities in Hungary, Romania and Serbia'), the discussion of the varied manifestations of segregation will identify those main factors that play decisive roles in shaping local social relations and also in molding the patterns of inter-ethnic encounters within local communities. Among the important factors the following will be considered: the general well-being of the local society; imprints of earlier inter-ethnic cohabitation and cooperation in work; the internal stratification of the Roma communities by socioeconomic differentiations; the impact of cultural, religious and linguistic differences withln the Roma community; and the overall dynamics of economic and labor market developments withln the locality. I will attempt to show that the listed factors and processes largely set the stage oflocal segregation while they exert differential impact on marginalization. Moreover, intersectionality among these factors works through deepening and fixing exclusion in the form of segregation which, in tum, helps to translate informal relations of exclusion into formalized patterns of subordination. In a next step, a set of examples of institutional segregation of Roma in education and on the labor market will be introduced and their interplay with the prevailing residential patterns will be scrutinized. It will be argued that, although institutional segregation often seems to follow its own professional logic, it importantly contributes to making residential segregation a compound and self-sustaining phenomenon. In the second part of the discussion, different patterns of segregation will be looked at from the perspective of Roma self-protection. In this context, formal and informal interest-representation in education and work will be presented as attempts for crossing the borders of institutional segregation while tacitly accepting residential separation. It will be demonstrated that such attempts at partial break-out can attain certain success in increasing the cohesion of the local ethnic community; however, their impact proves to be rather limited on generating processes and paths for Roma inclusion by the mainstrean1 society.

Julia Szalai is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Policy Studies and Recurrent Visiting Professor at the Nationalism Studies Program and the Department of Political Science of the Central European University, Budapest. She obtained her PhD in Sociology in 1986 and her degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) in Sociology in 2007, both from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Her recent research has been centered around the formation of the post-communist welfare states with a focus on the intersecting relations of class, gender and ethnicity in shaping poverty and social exclusion. In this context, she studied the social recognition movements and the struggles for changing redistribution of Roma communities of Central and Eastern Europe. By investigating Roma non- and underrepresentation in economics and politics, her research addressed issues of discrimination and the rise of  differentiated citizenship as indicators of the malfunctioning of democratic institutions in the region. By extending research on ethnic/racial differentiation in education, her studies revealed how the transference of authoritative cultural norms contributes to the deprivation of the poor – and especially the Roma poor – of successful participation in labor, economic advancement and social mobility and how it reinforces relations of social marginalization and exclusion. Her recent English-language publications include: ‘Fragmented Social Rights in Hungary’s Postcommunist Welfare State’. In: A. Evers and A-M. Guillemard: Social Policy and Citizenship: The Changing Landscape (Oxford University Press. 2013); Migrant, Roma and Post-Colonial Youth in Education across Europe: Being ‘Visibly Different’. (Eds. with Claire Schiff, Palgrave Macmillan 2014);  Faces and Causes of Roma Marginalization in Local Contexts: Hungary, Romania, Serbia. (Eds. with Violetta Zentai, Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, 2014); ‘Disquieted Relations: West Meeting East in Contemporary Sociological Research’. Intersections, No. 2 (2015), pp. 12-37.