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IDENTIFYING AND CHANGING STEREOTYPES BETWEEN ROMA AND NON – ROMA PEOPLE Dr. Gregor Mau č ec ISCOMET, Maribor, Slovenia.

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Presentation on theme: "IDENTIFYING AND CHANGING STEREOTYPES BETWEEN ROMA AND NON – ROMA PEOPLE Dr. Gregor Mau č ec ISCOMET, Maribor, Slovenia."— Presentation transcript:

1 IDENTIFYING AND CHANGING STEREOTYPES BETWEEN ROMA AND NON – ROMA PEOPLE Dr. Gregor Mau č ec ISCOMET, Maribor, Slovenia

2 Stereotypes What are they? – Colective social constructs/representations – Beliefs (convictions) that surpass individual level: they are shared by groups and refer to members of another group – Shared mental images (collective pictures in our heads) which have or do not have a close connection with social reality – Means by which individuals and groups orient themselves in an otherwise extremely complex and incomprehensible world – They can be connected with positive or negative attitudes towards other people, communities and groups to which they refer – They are imparted to younger members of a specific society in the process of bringing-up and in various social contexts (at home, in school, by participating in social networks, etc.) Why are they harmful? – Negative stereotypes often lead to or reinforce segregation, discrimination, social exclusion, marginalisation and also poverty of members of non-dominant groups

3 Stereotypes about Roma Opinion polls show that the prejudice and stereotypes about Roma which form the kernel of popular imagery are universal and ubiquitous Despite some positive connotations (e.g. Roma are good musicians, dancers and gifted artisan), they are overwhelmingly negative Early common stereotypes about Roma can be seen to have strong racial, ethnic and class bases; subsequent stereotyping of Roma invoked fears and antipathy among non-Roma people alongside themes of idleness, indiscipline and depravity, themes which persist to this day The dominant groups in Europe regard Roma as uneducated and unteachable, uninterested in school and work, conniving, dirty, and lazy

4 Stereotypes about Roma – continuation… Stereotypes relating to physical appearance (dark skin and hair), smell (they are dirty and stink, they have atrocious personal hygiene and they spread diseases), language spoken or designation of Roma with pejorative or offensive names (Gypsies, Cigani, etc.) Criminal stereotypes: Roma are beggars, thieves, swindlers, pickpockets, trespassers, rowdies, dirty, immoral, con-men, tricksters, they have bad manners, they are all fiddlers and brawlers, they are genetically predestined to become thieves and drug dealers, etc. Anti-Roma stereotypes of economic/social character: Roma are unsocial, social misfits, dishonest, untrustworthy, lazy, work-shy parasites who live off other people’s backs, layabouts, liars, idlers, parasitic deviants, riff-raffs (social marginals), they like to live in isolation and they are united among themselves, they do not want to be integrated or to work or to live in a civilized way, they have too many children and bad personal finance management, etc.

5 Stereotypes about non-Roma Word “Gadjo/Gadji” or “Civilian” is commonly used within Roma communities to indicate non-Roma man/woman and does not carry a pejorative or offensive meaning in the sense of “Gypsy” Roma often view the Gadje negatively as oppressive, domineering, source of trouble, easy victims of Gypsy cunning, or sometimes positively as trustworthy, but most significantly, the Gadje are considered impure because they do not respect the Roma code of hygiene—marimé Such distinction of Roma from Gadje may continue to impact the integration of Roma into society at large, their participation in civil society, and their use of public services

6 Changing stereotypes Two significant attributes of stereotyped attitudes: persistence and rigidity Stereotypes are extremely resistant to changes despite information that contradicts them – mostly such information is interpreted as an exception to the general rule, as an incident, etc. Even when people encounter a stereotyped group member who violates the group stereotype, they often continue to maintain the stereotype by splitting it into subtypes - as a result of subtyping, stereotypes become impervious to disconfirming evidence

7 Changing stereotypes – continuation… Stereotypes may become, under specific circumstances, less outspoken and less frequently used, while it is much more difficult to change or reduce them. However, so far research has found that stereotypes may be widespread and persistent, but they are also amenable to change when people make an effort to reduce them. Several studies on the issue indicate that stereotypes are responsive to new information and subsequently can be successfully changed or even reduced to some extent if dealt with proper techniques and methods and social perceptions made more accurate when people are motivated to do so. The majority of anti-Roma stereotypes have maintained their original purport in different societies for centuries.

8 Reducing stereotypes between Roma and non-Roma Strategic tools aimed at changing stereotypes about Roma and non- Roma should ensure that measures and actions chosen seek to eliminate false believes by: – providing correct and accurate information – avoiding “one-way” communication (both Roma and non-Roma must be given an opportunity to engage with the topic of stereotypes and to contribute their views) – providing the practical skills to empower Roma and non-Roma to speak out against stereotypes – invoking empathy for members of outgroup on both sides – pointing out similarities among rather than differences between Roma and non-Roma, but subsequently emphasising cultural diversity and plurality

9 Reducing stereotypes between Roma and non- Roma – continuation… – focusing on changing stereotypy behaviours and actions, rather than on modifying attitudes and/or beliefs, which are remarkably resistant to change – offering communities sound alternative explanations to people’s justifications for their stereotypy views, stressing that ethnic groups are not homogenous – obtaining and having the support of clear unambiguous political leadership – being supported by sustained and substantial funding – collaborating across relevant agencies and full consultation/involvement of all ethnic communities – offering practical solutions to changing stereotypy behaviour rather than just focusing on widely held beliefs – developing long-term plans rather than one-shot interventions

10 Strategies for reducing stereotypes between Roma and non-Roma Individual strategies: they include actions and measures directed towards individuals (e.g. providing knowledge about social and cultural issues, dissonance and empathy) Interpersonal strategies: they foster intergroup contact, consensus information, dialogue and advertising and awareness-raising campaigns Stereotypes operate at both individual and systemic levels: anti-stereotypes strategies need to be implemented at all levels (i.e. individual, institutional and cultural) No strategy for change will be successful without significant political will and adequate support of leading structures in a respective country.

11 Strategies for reducing stereotypes between Roma and non-Roma – continuation… The best possible approach for combating stereotypes is multi- faceted, inclusive (encompassing all relevant strategies and involving all parties affected) and developed in accordance with the specific and local circumstances of the communities for which it is intended. Dynamic, iterative and consultative approach, using both ‘top- down’ strategies (e.g. community or institutionally instigated action, such as advertising campaigns targeting specific actions or behaviours) and ‘bottom up’ strategies (e.g. addressing specific stereotypy behaviours), is more likely to succeed than are replications of ‘one-size fits all’ programs, without due regard for local community concerns and political sensitivities around such issues as entitlement, dispossession, racism and prejudice


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