Europe’s perennial "outsiders": a processual approach to Roma stigmatization and ghettoization

POWELL, Ryan and LEVER, John (2017). Europe’s perennial "outsiders": a processual approach to Roma stigmatization and ghettoization. Current Sociology, 65 (5), 680-699.

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This paper draws on the theoretical work of Norbert Elias and Loïc Wacquant in seeking to understand the stigmatized and marginalized position of the Roma population within Europe. The paper argues that the persistent persecution of Roma, reflected in social policy, cannot be understood without reference to long-term social processes, which shape the nature of the asymmetric power relations between Roma and non-Roma. Elias's theory of established-outsider relations is applied at the intra-state European level in arguing that Roma constitute a cross-border "outsider" group; with their intense stigmatization explained and perpetuated by a common set of collective fantasies which are maintained through complex group processes of disidentification, and which result in Roma being seen as of lesser human worth. Wacquant's theoretical concept of the "ghetto" is then drawn upon to show how the manifestations of stigmatization for the stigmatized are at once psychological, social and spatial. The paper suggests that the synthesis of the two theorists' relational, theoretical concepts allows for an approach that can expose the way in which power is exercised within and through group relations. Such an approach emphasizes the centrality of the interdependence between Roma and non-Roma, and the fluctuating power balance that characterises that relationship across time and space. The paper concludes that, while existing research focused on policy and outcomes is useful in understanding the negative contemporary experiences of Roma populations, they need to be understood in the context of wider social processes and historical continuities in seeking to elucidate how these processes shape policies and contribute to social and spatial marginalization.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online before print July 27, 2015
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 680-699
Depositing User: Sarah Ward
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2015 11:31
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 13:49

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