Educating the Roma: The Struggle for Cultural Autonomy in a Seminomadic Group in Norway

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Educating the Roma: The Struggle for Cultural Autonomy in a Seminomadic Group in Norway


  • Ada I. Engebrigtsen Norwegian Social Research, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway


Abstract  This paper will discuss the rationale of a group of Norwegian Roma who have resisted the government’s attempts to educate them since the early 1960s. Behind the scenes these Roma claim that a school education is irrelevant for their children yet, when faced with school authorities, they comply. The authorities have used different approaches to promote education for Rom children however, their success is questionable. So what is at stake here? What is wrong with education from the Roma’s point of view and how do the authorities respond? This article opens with a presentation of the history and background of the Norwegian Roma. It then presents the Norwegian system of public primary and lower secondary education and their attempts to accommodate Rom children. It critically examines the concept of education and the unquestioned and self-evident understanding of schooling as a liberating force per se. It further makes use of Bourdieu’s analysis of symbolic capital and habitus and discusses the Roma’s resistance to education and why symbolic capital developed through public school education is not converted to the Rom field.


Keywords  education; habitus; Norway; resistance; Roma; symbolic capital


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/si.v3i5.275


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