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The Social Construction of Roma
Housing Issue: Determinants of
Roma and Romanians Perceptions
Cătălina-Ionela REZEANU
PhD ...
Background
• At international level, there is a rapidly growing literature on the poor
quality of Roma housing in order to...
Problem description
• At Romanian national level the Roma housing issue is a serious one, and
needs efficient social polic...
The contribution of the study
• Aim: studying the particularities of four Roma communities situated on
the periphery of Fă...
Theoretical framework
• From the sociology of space field: the relational model of space (Löw,
2000) – the distinction bet...
Method
• Secondary analysis based on data collected in February 2013 for the local
study “The Barometer Survey on Roma in ...
Determinants of Romanians
perceptions
7
1) perceiving that the main type of problems of Roma from Combinat Colony is relat...
Interpretation of the
determinants of Romanians
perceptions
• Romanian respondents tend to perceive Roma housing issue as ...
Determinants of Roma
perceptions
9
1) declaring that the house is not connected to central heating, but that they do not n...
Interpretation of the determinants
of Roma perceptions
• Roma respondents perceive that the Roma housing issue is importan...
Discussions
• Romanians respondents decide about the importance of the housing issue
of the entire local Roma community ba...
The confirmation of the hypothesis
• These results confirmed the hypothesis that the determinants of Roma
and Romanians re...
Conclusions
• Consistency with previous findings about the magnitude of problems like:
discrimination against Roma, social...
Selective references• Berlin, J. (2011). Housing–Related Problems of Roma in Finland and Gypsies and Travellers in England...
Rezeanu, C.-I. (2015). The Social Construction of
Roma Housing Issue: Determinants of Roma
and Romanians Perceptions. Revi...
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2015: the social construction of roma housing issue

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Rezeanu, C.-I. (2015). The Social Construction of Roma Housing Issue: Determinants of Roma and Romanians Perceptions. Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research, 9(1), 66-78

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2015: the social construction of roma housing issue

  1. 1. The Social Construction of Roma Housing Issue: Determinants of Roma and Romanians Perceptions Cătălina-Ionela REZEANU PhD Student University of Bucharest 2015 1
  2. 2. Background • At international level, there is a rapidly growing literature on the poor quality of Roma housing in order to formulate and implement better policies addressing this issue (ECMI, 2014; Molinuevo et al., 2012) – empirical studies tend to focus predominantly on European or national level, ignoring the particularities of different local Roma communities (Vitale & Membretti, 2012; Vuksanović-Macura, 2012; Berlin, 2011; Nolan, 2011; FRA, 2009; Kosa et al., 2007; Slaev, 2007) – most of these studies are concerned only with Roma perspective of the situation, not taking into account that the problem is a socially constructed one, implying conflict and negotiations between Roma and other ethnic groups perspectives • The tradition of studying Roma minorities as a homogenous population with a similar identity did not provide a proper answer to the questions about who Roma is and ignored the diversity and complexity of local Roma communities (Tremlett, 2014)
  3. 3. Problem description • At Romanian national level the Roma housing issue is a serious one, and needs efficient social policies to be addressed (FRA, 2012) • In 4 Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, and Slovakia) national initiatives to solve Roma housing issues, according to the EU directives, failed, and resulted in increasing Roma residential segregation (Molnár et al., 2012) – main causes: the governments applied top-down measures, ignoring the local needs and other contextual factors, and not evaluating periodically the program implementation effects 3
  4. 4. The contribution of the study • Aim: studying the particularities of four Roma communities situated on the periphery of Făgăraș City (Plopului Street, Negoiu Street, Combinat Colony, and Prunului Street), in order to contribute to the understanding of local specificities of Roma housing issue • Rationale: We previously found that Roma and Romanians have a similar perception about the severity of Roma housing issue, but a different perception about the solutions proposed to solve the problem. This could mean that apparent similarities might hide different mechanism and arguments of crystallizing this perceptions, and also different levels of accepting the solutions proposed by local authorities • Research question: what variables are the determinants of Roma and Romanians perceptions about the importance of Roma housing issue, the main hypothesis being that the determinants might not be the same for Roma and Romanians perceptions 4
  5. 5. Theoretical framework • From the sociology of space field: the relational model of space (Löw, 2000) – the distinction between social production and social construction of space – the literature offers examples of studies that focus on understanding the providing of houses for Roma as a process of social production of residential space in which space can contribute to stigma and exclusion (Vitale & Membretti, 2013) – there is an increasing literature pointing to the need of studying more how public discourse is taken up by Roma, reinterpreted and lived in their everyday life (Tremlett, 2014) • From the sociology of ethnic minorities field - the distinction between (McGarry, 2014) – representation of Roma (the social construction of Roma identity, the way they are seen and understood by others) – representation for Roma (their ability to make themselves understood and seen, to control the dominant images of themselves) 5
  6. 6. Method • Secondary analysis based on data collected in February 2013 for the local study “The Barometer Survey on Roma in Făgăraș City” (Brașov county, Romania) • Data collection: oral survey technique based on standardized questionnaire, applied to 4 peripheral areas of Făgăraș City, where Roma communities face severe housing problems (systematic sample, N = 400 Roma respondents aged 18 years and over) and to the central and middle city neighborhoods, majority inhabited by Romanians (systematic sample, N = 400 Romanian respondents aged 18 years and over). The identification of potential Roma respondents was done using the technique of implicit validation (Messing, 2014) • Measurements: two dummy dependent variables regarding Romanians (DV1) and Roma perception (DV2) about whether the issue of Roma housing conditions is important or not (and therefore should be included in public authorities’ agenda). All the other potential independent variables (IVs) from the database were either dummy variables, or continuous quantitative ones • Statistical analyses: Pearson correlation analysis – identified 40 potential IVs; Simple OLS regression analysis – 40 regression models (29 for DV1 prediction and 12 for DV1 prediction); Multiple OLS regression analysis – 2 regression models (the prediction of DV1 based on 9 IVs and the prediction of DV2 based on 6 IVs) 6
  7. 7. Determinants of Romanians perceptions 7 1) perceiving that the main type of problems of Roma from Combinat Colony is related to the lack of enforcement of low and order (IV8: in this category were included problems like lack of identity papers, order, tougher laws regarding Roma, public order and safety) 2) perceiving that the main source of income in Roma local communities is not the salary (IV2) 3) perceiving that the main source of income in Roma local communities is the social welfare (IV5) 4) perceiving that in Roma community from Combinat Colony there is a housing tenure issue related to the fact that some members of the household do not have residence paper and live illegally in social housing facilities (IV17) 5) perceiving that the main source of income in Roma local communities is child / maternal allowance (IV4) 6) perceiving that is more difficult for Roma than for Romanians to find a job (IV26) 7) perceiving that the main type of problem in Roma community from Prunului Street is related to housing (IV6: in this category were included problems like lack of social houses, lack of tabulated houses, lack of cleanliness, lack of space, the need for Roma to be moved somewhere else, the need for social houses renovation, and the danger of the housing buildings tearing down) 8) being in favour of the idea of Roma and Romanians living in the same neighbourhood (IV24) 9) perceiving that in Roma community from Combinat Colony there is a housing tenure issue related to the fact that Roma live in social housing facilities, and therefore they do not own their house (IV12). Romanians respondents perceive that the issue of Roma housing issue is important, and therefore should be included in public authorities’ agenda when they acknowledge: 1) the specific problems of two local Roma communities, 2) the wage dependency of the entire local Roma community and 3) the labor discrimination and the need to reduce residential segregation
  8. 8. Interpretation of the determinants of Romanians perceptions • Romanian respondents tend to perceive Roma housing issue as important when they think that in two specific local communities of Roma (Prunului Street and Combinat Colony) the main problems are related to housing conditions, housing tenure (lack of private ownership of the house, lack of residence papers for living legally in social houses), and poor enforcement of low and order • The perception of Romanian respondents about the importance of Roma housing issues is determined by their perception about wage dependency of Roma (their main source of income not being the regular salary, but the social welfare or the child/maternal allowance given by the State) • Romanian respondents acknowledge the importance of Roma housing issue when they detach from prejudice and discrimination and realize that is more difficult for Roma than for Romanians to find a job, and accept that it’s normal for Roma and Romanians to live in the same neighborhood 8
  9. 9. Determinants of Roma perceptions 9 1) declaring that the house is not connected to central heating, but that they do not need this public utility (IV34) 2) being in favor on the idea of Roma and Romanians living in the same neighborhood (IV24) 3) declaring improper housing conditions dew to defective house equipments (IV32) 4) declaring that in the last year the respondent or a member of their family felt embarrassed / uncomfortable in front of strangers to recognize being Roma (IV40) 5) declaring that the house does not have a kitchen inside, but that they do not need this utility (IV36) 6) estimating that giving Roma the opportunity to buy the land on which their house is build illegally will increase of the quality of Roma housing (IV37). Roma respondents perceive that the issue of Roma housing is important and therefore should be included in public authorities’ agenda when they: 1) acknowledge the lack of housing utilities and amenities and reject the need for some of them, 2) think a particular solution would bring them concrete advantages, 3) internalise social stigma and express he need to reduce residential segregation
  10. 10. Interpretation of the determinants of Roma perceptions • Roma respondents perceive that the Roma housing issue is important when they personally experience lack of proper housing conditions (defective house equipments, lack of house connection to central heating, lack of kitchen inside the house), and, paradoxically, when they reject the need for some of them (connection to central heating, lack of kitchen). • The perception of Roma respondents about the importance of Roma housing issues is also determined by their perception that the solutions of buying the land on which their house was illegally built could lead to an improvement of Roma quality of housing. – They think the problem is important and need an urgent City Hall intervention, when they favour a particular solution to that problem, and assume that the solution would improve their quality of life. • The Roma respondents’ awareness of the importance of the housing issue is determined by the internalization of stigma (declaring that in the last year the respondent or a member of their family felt embarrassed / uncomfortable in front of strangers to recognize being Roma) and by beliefs that social distance between Roma and Romanians should be reduced (being in favour on the idea that Roma and Romanians should live in the same neighbourhood). 10
  11. 11. Discussions • Romanians respondents decide about the importance of the housing issue of the entire local Roma community based on perceiving specific problems of only Combinat Colony (enforcement of low and order and housing tenure), and Prunului Street (housing conditions) Roma communities. They do not take into account aspects related to small Roma communities from Plopului Street and Negoiu Street where there are housing issues associated with the imposed change of residence. This situation may be due to the fact that local press had presented more frequently and more negatively the situation of Roma from Prunului Street and Combinat Colony • The apparent contradictory situation of Roma complaining about lack of housing utilities and also rejecting the need for some of them might hide an economic struggle problem – a big number of Roma from local communities detached their houses from utilities because they couldn’t afford to pay for them, and when they were asked to pay the rent for staying in social houses or the property tax for owners of the houses, they refused to pay saying the authorities are trying to rob them putting big taxes on houses without access to basic utilities 11
  12. 12. The confirmation of the hypothesis • These results confirmed the hypothesis that the determinants of Roma and Romanians respondents’ perceptions about the importance of Roma housing issue are different, except for the discrimination determinant – the other determinants are very different and suggest particular mindsets for Roma and Romanians respondents: • Romanians respondents focus on aspects related to “low and order”, “house ownership”, “wage dependency”, “poor housing conditions”, “housing policy”, and “jobs” • Roma respondents focus on aspects related to “access to utilities”, “quality of house amenities”, “potential increase of the quality of housing”, “land ownership” and “social embarrassment” 12
  13. 13. Conclusions • Consistency with previous findings about the magnitude of problems like: discrimination against Roma, social distance towards Roma, legality of Roma house ownership, Roma houses access to basic utilities and facilities, Roma economic income sources, public invisibility of collective evictions and relocations of Roma tenants, and about the visibility of criminality from Roma social houses neighborhoods (Fleck & Rughiniș, 2008) – The paper makes a step further by showing their causal power on the perception of the importance of housing issue in Roma and Romanians agendas • Further studies need be done, in order to indentify whether the different determinants of Roma and Romanians perceptions might reflect different grounds for the decision making processes, and even different systems of values and beliefs. 13
  14. 14. Selective references• Berlin, J. (2011). Housing–Related Problems of Roma in Finland and Gypsies and Travellers in England. In Proceeding of Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference (pp. 278-288). Manchester: The University of Salford. • ECMI (European Centre for Minority Issues). (2014). The Decade of Roma Inclusion. ECMI Fact Sheet, 11, March. www.ecmi.de/fileadmin/downloads/publications/Decade_of_Inclusion.pdf • Fleck, G. & Rughinș, C. (eds.). (2008). Come Closer. Inclusion and Exclusion of Roma in Present Day Romanian Society. Bucharest: Human Dynamics. • FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights). (2009). Case study: Improving Roma housing and eliminating slums, Spain. October. http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/605-090210-ROMA_Housing_Case-final-ENES.pdf • FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights). (2012). The situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States. Survey results at a glance. http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/2099-FRA-2012-Roma-at-a-glance_EN.pdf • Kosa, K., Molnar, A., McKee, M. & Adany, R. (2007). Rapid health impact appraisal of eviction versus a housing project in a colony-dwelling Roma (Gypsy) community. European journal of public health, 17: 217-217. • Löw, M.S. (2000).The Social Production and Social Construction of Public Space. In: M. Löw (ed.), On the Plaza: The Politics of Public Space and Culture (pp. 127-128). Austin: University of Texas Press. • McGarry, A. (2014). Roma as a political identity: Exploring representations of Roma in Europe. Ethnicities, 14 (6): 756-774. • Messing, V. (2014). Methodological puzzles of surveying Roma/Gypsy populations. Ethnicities, 14(6): 811-829. • Molinuevo, D., Foti, K. & Koomen, M. (2012). Living Conditions of the Roma: Substandard Housing and Health. Dublin: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. http://eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_files/pubdocs/2012/02/en/1/EF1202EN.pdf • Molnár, Á., Ádám, B., Antova, T., Bosak, L., Dimitrov, P., Mileva, H. & Kósa, K. (2012). Health impact assessment of Roma housing policies in Central and Eastern Europe: A comparative analysis. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 33(1): 7- 14. • Nolan, A. (2011). ‘Aggravated Violations’, Roma Housing Rights and Forced Expulsions in Italy: Recent Developments under the European Social Charter Collective Complaints System. Human Rights Law Review, 11(2): 343-361. • Slaev, A.D. (2007). Bulgarian policies towards the Roma housing problem and Roma squatter settlements. European Journal of Housing Policy, 7(1): 63-84. • Tremlett, A. (2014). Making a difference without creating a difference: Super-diversity as a new direction for research on Roma minorities. Ethnicities, 14 (6): 830-848. • Vitale, T. & Membretti, A. (2013). Just another roll of the dice: A socially creative initiative to assure Roma housing in North Western Italy. In: F. Moularet (ed.). The International Handbook on Social Innovation: Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research (pp. 186-196). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. • Vuksanović-Macura, Z. (2012). The mapping and enumeration of informal Roma settlements in Serbia. Environment and Urbanization, 24(2): 685-705. 14
  15. 15. Rezeanu, C.-I. (2015). The Social Construction of Roma Housing Issue: Determinants of Roma and Romanians Perceptions. Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research, 9(1), in press. 15

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