European Policies for Social Inclusion of Roma: Catch 22?
School of History, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, UK, and Balkan Ethnology Department, Institute for Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria
Balkan Ethnology Department, Institute for Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria
Abstract: The article analyzes contemporary political discourses with regard to social inclusion of Roma on the basis of comparison with achievements and failures in the previous historical period of the communist rule in Eastern Europe. It argues that since the vast majority of the European Roma had lived in the past and continue living nowadays in the countries of Eastern Europe, no successful policy for their inclusion is possible without taking into account the experiences and outcomes of the actions for Roma integration in the socialist period. The experience from the times of socialism shows that successful policies are possible only in an appropriate socio-political context and only if accomplished within the mainstream approach. Against this background, the article scrutinizes the European Policies for Social Inclusion of Roma, and explains why they present a Catch 22 situation: There is a vicious cycle of problems which need to be solved; the solution requires a special policy for inclusion, however this policy stigmatizes Roma and sets them even more apart from the rest of society. Thus the vicious cycle of problems expands. The main point of the article is to propose an explanation of this failure of democracy and liberalism, which could constitute a useful lesson for the future.
Keywords: assimilation; European policy; Gypsies; inclusion; marginalization; Roma; socialism