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Questioning the policy framing of Roma in Ghent, Belgium: some implications of taking an insider perspective seriously

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Hemelsoet, Elias; Pelt, Pauwel van

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Abstract The recent flow of Roma immigrants to Western Europe has caused a lot of societal and political discussion. Initiatives and policy measures are introduced at the European and national or local level in order to deal with this situation. This article explores to what extent experiences and self-perceptions of Roma immigrants in Western Europe correspond with the constructed discourse in terms of "Roma inclusion". In policy practices, there seems to be a tension between a willingness to strengthen the particular identity of Roma on the one hand ("targeting"), and a desire to fit those people into mainstream society on the other hand ("mainstreaming"). Based on a case study in the city of Ghent (Belgium) with a small sample of in-depth interviews, the authors explore what an insider perspective may add to the construction of policy. Conclusions relate to the experienced gap with mainstream society, the identification with and definition of the "Roma" concept as well as intergenerational differences. Finally, the argument is taken a step further, and it is wondered how an insider perspective may also question policy. By relating policy conceptualisations of Roma to (self) identification processes, suggestions are made to redefine the meaning of inclusion.
Keywords gipsy; ethnic group; Belgium; social integration; inclusion; immigration; migration; minority policy; identity; social policy; self-determination
Classification Social Problems; Migration, Sociology of Migration
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 148-160
Journal Social Inclusion, 3 (2015) 5
Issue topic Talking about Roma: implications for social inclusion
ISSN 2183-2803
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution