Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

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

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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



© Ada I. Engebrigtsen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.