Migration and Social Inequality. Changing patterns of inequality in Romania’s Roma ghettoes.
Remus Gabriel Anghel
Romanian Institute For Research On National Minorities
In this paper I address the relationship between migration and inequality, by analysing the changing positions of Roma people from so-called Roma ghettoes in Romania. I argue that in the context of unrestrained mobility to Western Europe, these excluded people are able to move abroad. In time they are able to challenge, adapt, or reposition themselves vis-à-vis the deeply-seated social and economic inequality in their home society. The paper is based on fieldwork that was carried out in two multi-ethnic localities in Transylvania: a multi-ethnic village and a small city. Drawing on these two case studies and on studies of Roma migration that were carried out in the last years, I distinguish four main mechanisms that Roma employ in relation to social and economic inequality: challenging inequality, complying, exit and crossing ethnic boundaries. By challenging inequality I mean processes in which people actively react to prevailing inequalities, questioning, and attempting to change them. Complying designates situations where people accept or have to accept situations of inequality. By exiting I mean situations in which the Roma prefer to remain abroad permanently. Such situations can of course occur for various reasons, but the defining feature is the complaining on uncomfortable situations, or disadvantages back home. Finally, a mechanism I encountered in the literature is of crossing ethnic boundaries, or rapprochement between the Roma and the non-Roma, as it is for instance with cases of mixed marriages, or increasing interethnic friendships.