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Rethinking the participation of young
marginalised groups in a European
context with an emphasis on Gypsy
communities
Hugo Santos, University of Porto, Portugal
Nighet Riaz, University of the West of Scotland, Scotland
Migena Selcetaj, University of Bologna, Italy
Marta Carvalho, University of Porto, Portugal
The concept of the “margins”:
The concerns of Social and Human Sciences about marginalised groups and their trend in
emancipate the Other and give him/her voice;
A grammar of power, domination and inequality (e.g., Critical Theory of Frankfurt, Marxist
and Neomarxist Theories, Feminist and queer Theory, etc);
The role of citizenship in leveling unequal power relations (Marshall, 1950; Araújo, 2007)
the connections with participation (Menezes, 2010; Ferreira & Menezes, 2012);
The neutral gaze of Science and recent neoliberal ideas about entrepeneurship, individual
agency and positive narratives (e.g., participation of “young people”. But who are these
young people?).
Critics:
Oportunistic interests (economic, cultural, …) in Saving the Other (Spivak, 1989; Santos,
2013);
“Margins” as a metaphor for exclusion is a multidimensional concept: both stigmatising and
produtive (hooks, 1989; Foucault, 1999; Magalhães & Stoer, 2005; Neves, 2012).
Must we listen all voices or empower all groups? (e.g., Malcolm X and Le Pen).
Against essentialism: intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989; Puar, 2007;
Taylor, 2010).
Intersectionality: hybrid margins of a post-modern world;
Multiple identities and positions of subject (Butler, 1999; Hall, 2000);
The dangers of a single story (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie).
Examples of margins and multiple combinations:
Sex/Gender/Sexual orientation/Gender identity or expression;
Social Class/Social Status/Educational outcomes/Professional activity;
Ethnic belonging or expression/Skin colour/nationality;
Religion;
Disability (mental and/or physical);
Age;
Physical appearance
Gypsy identity
“Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going
in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an
intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If
an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars
traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of
them (…) But it is not always easy to reconstruct an accident:
sometimes the skid marks and the injuries simply indicate that they
occurred simultaneously, frustrating efforts to determine which
driver caused the harm. In these cases the tendency seems to be
that no driver is held responsible, no treatment is administered,
and the involved parties simply get back in their cars and zoom
away.” (Crenshaw, 1989: 63).
Definition of civic participation
Montgomery, Gottlieb-Robles and Larson (2004)
define civic engagement as any activity which is
aimed at improving one’s community, whereas Banaji
and Buckingham (2011, p22) discuss how during their
study, they have had trouble pinning down the
meaning of civic and how it is used interchangeably
by other researchers with ‘political’ or ‘social’. Banaji
(2008) raises the question of who defines the
‘common good’ and who then decides who is
included or excluded from this definition.
Civic participation involves behaviour aimed at resolving
problems of the community (Zukin, Keeter, Andolina, Jenkins, &
Delli-Carpini, 2006), whereas political participation (both offline
and online) refers to behaviour seeking to influence government
action and policymaking (Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995).
Definition of Youth Participation
Bakker and de Vreese (2011) discuss previous research carried
out which describes the increasing detachment of younger
people from politics, through the decline of political interest,
dropping participation and low turnout at elections (Delli Carpini,
2000; Phelps, 2004; Pirie and Worcester, 2000).
How does this fit in with the gypsy
traveller community?
Bhopal and Myers (2008,p109) found through their research that
the gypsy travellers in the United Kingdom wanted to be
accepted for who they were and not assimilation into the
mainstream culture.
Weeks argues that
The strongest sense of community is in fact likely to come from
those groups who find the premises of their collectives existence
threatened and who construct out of this a community of
identity which provides a strong sense of resistance and
empowerment. Seemingly unable to control the social relations
in which they find themselves, people, shrink the world to the size
of their communities and act politically on that basis (200, p 240-
3)
The Scottish Context
The Roma Community in the Southside of Glasgow, Govanhill
http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/govanhills-roma-residents-aim-
to-be-part-of-the-solution-147511n.23114746
Gypsy Albanian Context
• Roma in Albania are known by different names. In the north,
they are known as gypsies, magjyp in the south as jevge and
the Southeast (Korce, etc.) as kurbatë and are also different
hypotheses about their origin and ancestry.
• People who do not have any Gypsy or Traveller friends are
more likely to use derogatory words against them compared
to those who do. This emphasizes the importance of inter-
group contact to lessen animosities against these groups.
Issues of Gypsy Community
• Poorer health status for the last year, were significantly more likely to have
a long‐term illness, health problem or disability, which limits daily activities
or work, had more problems with mobility, self‐care, usual activities, pain
or discomfort
• Employment: As a result of poverty and social exclusion by formal labor
market, Roma and Egyptians youth work in informal labor market, mainly
in collecting of iron, in the trade of used clothes, occasional jobs,
construction and begging.
• Education: They list a few reasons mainly related to poverty. Difficulty to
buy books and school items, lack of suitable clothes, poor living conditions
and lack of infrastructure, which should give contribution to the growth of
household income, care for sisters and younger brothers, etc., are some of
the main obstacles to the education of children.
• Cultural barriers: include gender roles, language and nomadic traditions.
• Rich in their social capital & Poor in structural capital
Participation as a right
• The first declaration of rights was adopted by the
International Save the Children Union in Geneva in1923, and
endorsed by the League of Nations General Assembly in
1924, as the World Child Welfare Charter.
• Article 12 states that children have the right to participate in
decision making processes relevant to their lives and to
influence decisions taken in their regard, especially in
schools or communities.
• In addition, Article 15 states that children have the right to
create and join associations and to assemble peacefully.
Models of participation
Triangular dimensions of youth
participation
(Marc Jans and Kurt de Backer)
Hart’s Ladder of
Participation depicts
participation on a
continuum, from
manipulation and
tokenism.
Models of participation
Shier’s model seeks to
clarify this by
identifying three
stages of commitment
at each level:
openings,
opportunities and
obligations.
Obstacles to Participation
Bernstein (1996) says that there are “conditions for an
effective democracy. […] People must feel that they have a
stake in society. […] By stake I mean that not only are people
concerned to receive something but that they are also
concerned to give something” (p. 6).
However, when they are in a situation of social exclusion, such
participation becomes compromised, once the primary
systems of socialization and redistribution of knowledge and
resources ultimately fail in giving the adequate response to
their social needs.
Taking this in mind, urges the need to (re)consider ways of
involving young people whose expression of citizenship, for
some reason, is compromised.
Increasing the participation of
marginalized groups: the “Online”
potential “The online sphere does not only offer
individuals the possibility to engage in
traditional forms of political participation,
but it also allows individuals to engage in
forms of political activity that were
previously not available” (Vissers & Stolle,
2012: 2).
These authors talk about Social Network
Sites (SNS), making emphasis on Facebook
, as influent and important tools for new
forms of political and civic participation.
"Liking” or “joining” pages, “sharing”
images, news, opinions or “status”, are
also ways of participation. These actions
are not only new and easier ways to
engage in social and civic issues, as they
are also low-cost activities compared to
other more traditional participation forms.
Simple
InteractiveLow-cost
The “democratic
potential of Internet:
Why is Facebook a possible tool of mobilization for political and
civic participation?
According to Vissers & Stolle, because:
• Of its “ubiquity” (id: 3);
• it “is a communication medium that holds a huge potential for
interactivity and interconnectivity” (id: 4);
• it “has the potential to make political information more readily
available, particularly for those who do not necessarily seek it[;]
• (…) allows individuals to communicate independent from time
and place, whether in real-time or under the form of ‘delayed’
or asymmetrical communication” (id: 5);
• it “holds new potential to foster political engagement by
lowering the barriers for political participation” (id: 5).
Why is this relevantto increaseparticipation
amongyoung gypsiesin a social exclusion
situation?
• It has the potential to include new groups into the political process
by lowering the threshold for individuals who were previously less
inclined toward traditional participation activities.
• The access to this new media device, for participation and social
activism purposes, could provide the necessary motivation for young
people to be social and politically informed and foster in them the
will to participate actively in their society.
Reflections
• This would increase respect for diversity and increase awareness of
students of different ethnic groups associated with each culture.
Meanwhile, strengthening the cultural identity of Roma students /
Egyptian school would make it much more friendly.
• Consequently educational policies should aim to train and qualify
teachers to work in multicultural classrooms, to recognize cultural
values of other ethnic groups, to recognize the needs of marginalized
groups and be able to treat all students equally.
• It was also clear that lack of education about Travellers, Gypsies and
Roma communities was contributing to the deficient knowledge and
understanding about these groups, their culture and traditions.
• School can be an important mediator in raising awareness to the
different possibilities of social engagement, including the sensibilization
for the potential of the Internet for civic and political participation.
Thank you

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Rethinking Participation In A European Context

  • 1. Rethinking the participation of young marginalised groups in a European context with an emphasis on Gypsy communities Hugo Santos, University of Porto, Portugal Nighet Riaz, University of the West of Scotland, Scotland Migena Selcetaj, University of Bologna, Italy Marta Carvalho, University of Porto, Portugal
  • 2. The concept of the “margins”: The concerns of Social and Human Sciences about marginalised groups and their trend in emancipate the Other and give him/her voice; A grammar of power, domination and inequality (e.g., Critical Theory of Frankfurt, Marxist and Neomarxist Theories, Feminist and queer Theory, etc); The role of citizenship in leveling unequal power relations (Marshall, 1950; Araújo, 2007) the connections with participation (Menezes, 2010; Ferreira & Menezes, 2012); The neutral gaze of Science and recent neoliberal ideas about entrepeneurship, individual agency and positive narratives (e.g., participation of “young people”. But who are these young people?). Critics: Oportunistic interests (economic, cultural, …) in Saving the Other (Spivak, 1989; Santos, 2013); “Margins” as a metaphor for exclusion is a multidimensional concept: both stigmatising and produtive (hooks, 1989; Foucault, 1999; Magalhães & Stoer, 2005; Neves, 2012). Must we listen all voices or empower all groups? (e.g., Malcolm X and Le Pen).
  • 3. Against essentialism: intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989; Puar, 2007; Taylor, 2010). Intersectionality: hybrid margins of a post-modern world; Multiple identities and positions of subject (Butler, 1999; Hall, 2000); The dangers of a single story (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). Examples of margins and multiple combinations: Sex/Gender/Sexual orientation/Gender identity or expression; Social Class/Social Status/Educational outcomes/Professional activity; Ethnic belonging or expression/Skin colour/nationality; Religion; Disability (mental and/or physical); Age; Physical appearance Gypsy identity
  • 4. “Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them (…) But it is not always easy to reconstruct an accident: sometimes the skid marks and the injuries simply indicate that they occurred simultaneously, frustrating efforts to determine which driver caused the harm. In these cases the tendency seems to be that no driver is held responsible, no treatment is administered, and the involved parties simply get back in their cars and zoom away.” (Crenshaw, 1989: 63).
  • 5. Definition of civic participation Montgomery, Gottlieb-Robles and Larson (2004) define civic engagement as any activity which is aimed at improving one’s community, whereas Banaji and Buckingham (2011, p22) discuss how during their study, they have had trouble pinning down the meaning of civic and how it is used interchangeably by other researchers with ‘political’ or ‘social’. Banaji (2008) raises the question of who defines the ‘common good’ and who then decides who is included or excluded from this definition.
  • 6. Civic participation involves behaviour aimed at resolving problems of the community (Zukin, Keeter, Andolina, Jenkins, & Delli-Carpini, 2006), whereas political participation (both offline and online) refers to behaviour seeking to influence government action and policymaking (Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995).
  • 7. Definition of Youth Participation Bakker and de Vreese (2011) discuss previous research carried out which describes the increasing detachment of younger people from politics, through the decline of political interest, dropping participation and low turnout at elections (Delli Carpini, 2000; Phelps, 2004; Pirie and Worcester, 2000).
  • 8. How does this fit in with the gypsy traveller community? Bhopal and Myers (2008,p109) found through their research that the gypsy travellers in the United Kingdom wanted to be accepted for who they were and not assimilation into the mainstream culture. Weeks argues that The strongest sense of community is in fact likely to come from those groups who find the premises of their collectives existence threatened and who construct out of this a community of identity which provides a strong sense of resistance and empowerment. Seemingly unable to control the social relations in which they find themselves, people, shrink the world to the size of their communities and act politically on that basis (200, p 240- 3)
  • 9. The Scottish Context The Roma Community in the Southside of Glasgow, Govanhill http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/govanhills-roma-residents-aim- to-be-part-of-the-solution-147511n.23114746
  • 10. Gypsy Albanian Context • Roma in Albania are known by different names. In the north, they are known as gypsies, magjyp in the south as jevge and the Southeast (Korce, etc.) as kurbatë and are also different hypotheses about their origin and ancestry. • People who do not have any Gypsy or Traveller friends are more likely to use derogatory words against them compared to those who do. This emphasizes the importance of inter- group contact to lessen animosities against these groups.
  • 11. Issues of Gypsy Community • Poorer health status for the last year, were significantly more likely to have a long‐term illness, health problem or disability, which limits daily activities or work, had more problems with mobility, self‐care, usual activities, pain or discomfort • Employment: As a result of poverty and social exclusion by formal labor market, Roma and Egyptians youth work in informal labor market, mainly in collecting of iron, in the trade of used clothes, occasional jobs, construction and begging. • Education: They list a few reasons mainly related to poverty. Difficulty to buy books and school items, lack of suitable clothes, poor living conditions and lack of infrastructure, which should give contribution to the growth of household income, care for sisters and younger brothers, etc., are some of the main obstacles to the education of children. • Cultural barriers: include gender roles, language and nomadic traditions. • Rich in their social capital & Poor in structural capital
  • 12. Participation as a right • The first declaration of rights was adopted by the International Save the Children Union in Geneva in1923, and endorsed by the League of Nations General Assembly in 1924, as the World Child Welfare Charter. • Article 12 states that children have the right to participate in decision making processes relevant to their lives and to influence decisions taken in their regard, especially in schools or communities. • In addition, Article 15 states that children have the right to create and join associations and to assemble peacefully.
  • 13. Models of participation Triangular dimensions of youth participation (Marc Jans and Kurt de Backer) Hart’s Ladder of Participation depicts participation on a continuum, from manipulation and tokenism.
  • 14. Models of participation Shier’s model seeks to clarify this by identifying three stages of commitment at each level: openings, opportunities and obligations.
  • 15. Obstacles to Participation Bernstein (1996) says that there are “conditions for an effective democracy. […] People must feel that they have a stake in society. […] By stake I mean that not only are people concerned to receive something but that they are also concerned to give something” (p. 6). However, when they are in a situation of social exclusion, such participation becomes compromised, once the primary systems of socialization and redistribution of knowledge and resources ultimately fail in giving the adequate response to their social needs. Taking this in mind, urges the need to (re)consider ways of involving young people whose expression of citizenship, for some reason, is compromised.
  • 16. Increasing the participation of marginalized groups: the “Online” potential “The online sphere does not only offer individuals the possibility to engage in traditional forms of political participation, but it also allows individuals to engage in forms of political activity that were previously not available” (Vissers & Stolle, 2012: 2). These authors talk about Social Network Sites (SNS), making emphasis on Facebook , as influent and important tools for new forms of political and civic participation. "Liking” or “joining” pages, “sharing” images, news, opinions or “status”, are also ways of participation. These actions are not only new and easier ways to engage in social and civic issues, as they are also low-cost activities compared to other more traditional participation forms. Simple InteractiveLow-cost The “democratic potential of Internet:
  • 17. Why is Facebook a possible tool of mobilization for political and civic participation? According to Vissers & Stolle, because: • Of its “ubiquity” (id: 3); • it “is a communication medium that holds a huge potential for interactivity and interconnectivity” (id: 4); • it “has the potential to make political information more readily available, particularly for those who do not necessarily seek it[;] • (…) allows individuals to communicate independent from time and place, whether in real-time or under the form of ‘delayed’ or asymmetrical communication” (id: 5); • it “holds new potential to foster political engagement by lowering the barriers for political participation” (id: 5).
  • 18. Why is this relevantto increaseparticipation amongyoung gypsiesin a social exclusion situation? • It has the potential to include new groups into the political process by lowering the threshold for individuals who were previously less inclined toward traditional participation activities. • The access to this new media device, for participation and social activism purposes, could provide the necessary motivation for young people to be social and politically informed and foster in them the will to participate actively in their society.
  • 19. Reflections • This would increase respect for diversity and increase awareness of students of different ethnic groups associated with each culture. Meanwhile, strengthening the cultural identity of Roma students / Egyptian school would make it much more friendly. • Consequently educational policies should aim to train and qualify teachers to work in multicultural classrooms, to recognize cultural values of other ethnic groups, to recognize the needs of marginalized groups and be able to treat all students equally. • It was also clear that lack of education about Travellers, Gypsies and Roma communities was contributing to the deficient knowledge and understanding about these groups, their culture and traditions. • School can be an important mediator in raising awareness to the different possibilities of social engagement, including the sensibilization for the potential of the Internet for civic and political participation.

Editor's Notes

  1. We chose this topic because it is a very current and controversial pan European issue. There are many interventions to engage these communities but it is seen as more important to have quality interventions. We felt that there were some limitations as a group, which came from our different European and academic backgrounds due to our different disciplines. This is an overview rather than an in-depth study but one which has the potential to be explored further.
  2. There is extensive literature emerging across Europe in regards to young people and online and offline civic engagement. It is interesting to see the differences in how we define civic engagement. Montgomery, Gottlieb-Robles and Larson (2004) define civic engagement as any activity which is aimed at improving one’s community, whereas Banaji and Buckingham (2011, p22) discuss how during their study, they have had trouble pinning down the meaning of civic and how it is used interchangeably by other researchers with ‘political’ or ‘social’. Banaji (2008) raises the question of who defines the ‘common good’ and who then decides who is included or excluded from this definition. Researchers have found that the definition differs from region to region, and means different things to people in different European countries. This again changes when it is looked at from an individual, local, national, European and then global context, and waxes and wanes in accordance to the socio-political and socio-economic context, with Banaji and Buckingham (2010) have found that the terminology used in these debates are not consistent or transparent. It is understood in different ways across national contexts. They go onto say that words like civic, political, citizenship, democracy and engagement can mean quite different things in different contexts (p17, 2010). Delli Carpini (2004) has encapsulated terms such as social capital (Putnam, 2000), civic literacy (Milner, 2002) and civic participation under ‘democratic engagement’. Does this not make the definition even more ambiguous and harder to pin down an exact meaning even though it differs from place to place, or indeed keeping the meaning more fluid allows it to be a best fit for different situations?
  3. Civic participation involves behaviour aimed at resolving problems of the community (Zukin, Keeter, Andolina, Jenkins, & Delli-Carpini, 2006), whereas political participation (both offline and online) refers to behaviour seeking to influence government action and policymaking (Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). The TRIF project at Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) was carried out between 2009-2011 and in an evaluation was found to have 3 important strands. Capacity building Civic Participation Conflict resolution Capacity Building work took part in the South West, South East and East of England regions. FFT worked with grassroots groups in these regions to strengthen their voice and to build up their ability to be more sustainable as organisations. The project mapped so called “deserts” where there was no representation for Gypsy Traveller communities, and worked to establish Gypsy Traveller forums. The creation of forums often involved working with local authorities to broker positive relationships with the Gypsy Traveller communities 2. Civic Participation Civic Participation strand was a two tier process. At the basic level, civic participation promoted electoral registration by visiting Gypsy Traveller sites and signing up the Travelling community to vote. The second tier was a more strategic approach: working with the local authorities in the South East to become proactive in developing innovative schemes and mechanisms for engagement with Gypsy Traveller communities
  4. Bakker and de Vreese (2011) discuss previous research carried out which describes the increasing detachment of younger people from politics, through the decline of political interest, dropping participation and low turnout at elections (Delli Carpini, 2000; Phelps, 2004; Pirie and Worcester, 2000). Researchers have recognised that by using the normative and traditional structures of recognised political and civic engagement, they could be overlooking that young people may be less attracted to traditional forms of political engagement, which has previously been explained as disengagement. This has led to researchers exploring a more modern and current concept of political and civic participation (Bakker and de Vreese, 2011, p453).
  5. Amina Kakabaveh in Colley et all, 2007, discusses the importance of analysing the intersection of multiple levels of oppression within the power structures of society, based on gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, language and religion. The complexity of the situation of Roma cannot be reduced to cultural differences or economic problems. As gypsies cannot be racially defined due to self categoraisation being based on family tradition, lifestyle, customs, appearance and language. Due to the outside categorisation of nationality and ethnicity, the issues around cultural autonomy are misleading as seeing the group as just a social class. This is also cited in literature by Clarke, 2006, Bhopal and Deuchar 2012, Myers and Bhopal 2008. But Anna Kende 2007 also focuses on young people’s success stories rather than deficits, as a way of identifying factors which support resilience to social exclusion. She uses life-history methods of research to understand how university students from the Roma ethnic minority in Hungary have overcome serious problems of discrimination and segregation within the Hungarian school system to access higher education. In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, young first- and second-generation immigrants are forming civic organizations online to challenge prejudice both within and outside their communities. Many of these immigrants are subjected to fierce and sometimes racist online critique and flaming, often by organized right-wing groups. In Hungary, Roma sites attempt to avoid this situation by having closed membership or by censoring posts from racist users (see Szakács and Bognár 2010).
  6. In a report compiled by colleagues Poole and Adamson at UWS for BEMIS Scotland, 2-3000 Roma were living in Govanhill, concentrated in accommodation across 4-5 streets. Many came from a district in Eastern Slovakia, with others from other parts of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The Slovak Roma in Govanhill form a diverse group of people. Most are literate, some having had completed a fair level of formal education in Slovakia, whilst others are unable to read and write either English or Slovak, their principle language being Roma/Rumungre dialect. Hence, the researchers utilised a variety of methods of data collection, supplementing interview techniques with focus groups, questionnaires and social activities. Several agencies have been proactive and innovative in their approach to street work to ensure that the opportunity to participate in activities, such as football and those provided through the local youth club, is available to the young people on the streets of Govanhill. However, the Crossroads Youth and Community Association and the Daisy-Street drop-in have had and continue to have a crucial role in community development and integration. For example, Crossroads has recently set up a women’s group, offering the opportunity to learn sewing skills and drawing on the work of volunteers as well a core Association staff. Crossroads has also recently been approached for assistance in setting up a Roma-led initiative, offering music nights to the wider community, building links within and beyond the Roma community. They require help and advice in relation to formalising their group, accessing funds and securing venues.
  7. Participation is a right protected by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The first declaration of rights was adopted by the International Save the Children Union in Geneva in1923, and endorsed by the League of Nations General Assembly in 1924, as the World Child Welfare Charter. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1959, and was the basis for the Convention of the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. Article 12 states that children have the right to participate in decision making processes relevant to their lives and to influence decisions taken in their regard, especially in schools or communities. In addition, Article 15 states that children have the right to create and join associations and to assemble peacefully. It affirms that children are full-fledged persons who have the right to express their views in all matters affecting them and requires that those views be heard. It recognizes the potential of children to share perspectives and to participate as citizens and actors of change. Providing information enables children to gain skills, confidence and maturity in expressing views and influencing decisions.